Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Week Eighteen - Inhale, Exhale

Sometimes, I am sure I am kin to Lucille Ball.  For those of you under the age of fifty, you might enjoy the YouTube clip of her working in a chocolate factory.  Google it! For Lucille, a simple task usually turned into something difficult and hilarious. The more she tried to fix the problem, the worse it got.
    I felt like Lucille the first time I decided to make fajitas.  Everything was going well; the veggies and the meat were cooked and doing their last bubbling in the cast iron pan.  Leaning over, I took a deep breath of the steaming, aromatic mixture.  Promptly, I regretted it as the spices, painfully inhaled, caused a crazy dance around the kitchen and a most exaggerated sneeze.  Note to self: do not inhale fajita spices!
    On a more public occasion, the waiter placed before me a lovely Italian meal.  Seeing the steam rising off the pasta, I instinctively gave the dish a hearty blow causing a layer of Parmesan cheese to waft onto the steak of my friend sitting opposite.  Hearing a deep gasp from the guests around the table, I looked up to see my friend beaming with delight because he loved cheese!  However, that didn’t make the situation any less embarrassing for me!  Note to self: control your blow!
    It reminds me of Newton’s Law.  For every action, there is a positive and equal reaction.  In both of my instances I had not taken time to consider the positive and equal reaction to my inhale and exhale!    
    I use these two stories to illustrate another truth about grace.  Kyle Idleman wrote “What you inhale is what you exhale” (p 119).  If we are decided and purposeful, inhaling God’s grace and forgiveness toward us, we will be giving off or exhaling, the same in our relationships. In order to live in a mode of grace and forgiveness, we must consider not only what we are breathing in, but also what that will look like when we breathe out. 
    My daughter teaches her children to think about the consequences of each decision they make.  She helps them answer direct questions like, “How will you feel after you make that decision?”  “How will the other person feel, and how might they react?” “Will that decision be the best step forward for you?”
     As I watch her instructing her children about choices and consequences, my mind goes to our Lord’s instruction.  We, too, are called upon to put others first, to do unto others as we would want them to do to us, to use patience and wisdom in our dealings, to exercise grace and forgiveness in all our relationships, and many more encouragements that help us breathe in and breathe out good things creating a beautiful perfume, or a sweet savor, as God puts it in 2 Corinthians 2:15. 
    The opposite is also true, for Matthew 12:35 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”  So, if we are breathing out threatenings, or biting and devouring each other as the Lord warns us about in Galatians 5:15, then the odor of our exhale is not a sweet-smelling savor, it stinks!  We have been breathing in fajita spices.  We can’t hide it; our inhale will explode somewhere. It is as simple as that and goes to confirm all God says about us.  As we think in our heart, so are we.  What is in our heart comes out of our mouth.  What we breathe in, we exhale.
    So, if I want to be like a breath of fresh air to those around me, then I must be conscious and aware of my inhale and my exhale.
    How about you?  Are you struggling with halitosis in your relationships?  Do you catch yourself raging and shouting?  Does the low rumble of anger taint your voice and body language? Might be time to check your breath! God’s cure is forgiveness and grace.  Confess it to Him and let His grace be the breath mint you need!

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