One Breath

On December 26, 2015 my husband and I arrived home in the early evening after a Christmas party. I glanced at my Facebook and saw a post concerning a tornado near Dallas. We turned on the TV, to The Weather Channel, and saw footage of the massive, monster tornado moving toward Garland, Texas–where my son and his family live. My heart fluttered as my husband sent a text message to my son asking if they were okay. My son replied: “We’re in the bathtub in the bathroom right now.” There was nothing I could do but pray, in that moment, for God’s protection over my family. Minutes ticked by as we watched the devastating tornado live on television knowing my grandbabies with their parents were huddled together waiting for the storm to pass.

About five minutes later I received a text from my son: “We’re okay!” Over the next hour the story unfolded. They had heard the deafening roar of the tornado ripping and tearing things up outside their home but they were untouched. Just down the street, the story was different. Complete destruction and death was left in the wake of the storm. One breath and life was taken for granted and one breath later it became the most precious gift.

This past Saturday, on January 2, 2016, I received a text message from my sister alerting me to the fact her 9 month old grandson in Colorado was in a medical emergency. A half hour later my mother called to tell me my niece’s baby son was gone, he had passed away. The ensuing hours were filled with heartbreaking phone calls from my sister and mother. Why? What had happened? I don’t understand this God. I stood outside, looking up into the sky, crying and asking God for an explanation. One breath and life was taken for granted and one breath later it became the most precious gift.

We aren’t promised another day, another hour, another minute, or another breath. Life can change abruptly in just one second. Yet, we squander our minutes and worry and fret about trivial matters and fight over childish, ridiculous things and we don’t appreciate what we have or who we have or where we are. With one breath we can fill a lonely, desperate heart with hope or we can damage irreparably. With one breath we can reach out and help the struggling neighbor or child or family member or with one breath we can condemn and judge. With one breath life is a passing thought and in the next breath it is a treasure.

As the next days, weeks and months pass by consider the value of one breath. Think about the effect you are having in another life. Remember the God who has given you life and honor the gift by living nobly, honorably and honestly. Just one breath.

The Lesson in Distraction

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I recall an incident a few years ago in which I was driving down the road. Everything was going smoothly, I’m a pretty good driver, until I happened to see a massive buck standing on the opposite side of the road. He was beautiful, the sun shining on him turned his fur golden and as a nature photographer I was thinking to myself, ‘That would be an incredible picture’. However, I wasn’t watching where I was driving and at the last possible second I saw I was headed for a deep ditch. I immediately yanked my steering wheel and pulled back up onto the road. That scared me so much I pulled into a parking lot, down the street, and sat for a few seconds imagining what would have happened if I hadn’t regained my senses!

I’ve been going through a lot of difficult times lately but my faith in God has helped me keep my perspective. I read my Bible every day, pray and trust He is going to work everything out. I am driving along smoothly until I get distracted. Unfortunately, yesterday, I had a huge meltdown–a pity party–and ended up spending the day in tears and feeling absolutely miserable. Toward the end of the day, God reminded me I was being a huge Peter.

In Matthew 14 we read about two events. The first event was Jesus feeding over 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The disciples witnessed this miraculous event and when all was said and done, the people “all ate and were satisfied” and they had twelve baskets of leftovers. After this, Jesus sent the disciples off in a boat and instructed them to go to the other side of the lake. They obeyed and set off. Later in the night it tells us in Matthew 14:24 the boat was “already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” Some of the disciples were experienced seamen and were fighting to keep the boat afloat. Shortly before dawn, it says, Jesus went out to them walking on the lake. When the men saw him they were terrified and cried out in fear, “Its a ghost!”

Jesus immediately seeks to put their fears to rest and says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Now, here is where Peter comes into play. He says, “If you’re really Jesus tell me to join you on the water” and Jesus says, “Come on!”

Peter jumps over the side of the boat, keeping his eyes on Jesus, and actually starts walking on the water! But, when he is distracted by the towering waves and the roar of the wind he takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. His first instinct is to cry out, “Lord, save me!”

This is the same Peter who had hours before witnessed an incredible miracle performed by Jesus. He should have known to keep his eyes on the Lord but instead he was looking at the turmoil around him and instead of remaining on top of the water, he was overcome by it. Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter and rebuked him. “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

In the midst of all my trials, when I keep my eyes and my faith in Jesus and remember everything he has already done for me, I can walk on the water of discouragement and depression and overcome the waves which would overtake me. When I become distracted by the seeming impossibilities of my situation, that’s when I begin to sink and fall into despair. Jesus asks me, “Why did you doubt?” as he takes my hand and lifts me back up on top of the water where I can walk with him instead of letting me slip beneath the waves.

Keep your eyes on Jesus and don’t be a Peter. Don’t become distracted by everything in life around you that would drag you into a ditch or beneath the waves. Remember everything he has already done for you and have faith–you will remain on top of the water and not sink.