Breathing in faith and breathing out fear.
I heard this phrase on a reality show many years ago, as one of the people on the show was repeating this mantra to himself to help him face a difficult situation, and it really struck a chord, in part because at the time I had just begun doing yoga practice, where the ability to concentrate on one’s breathing is considered fundamental for improving the flow of “energy” in one’s body. Better energy flow equals better health.
I practice yoga in a center that comes from Asian roots, so I have to re-write some of the philosophies to match my Christian foundation. Hence, when my instructors talk about feeling the energy from around me flow through me, I know that energy is actually the Holy Spirit, whom Christ promised to us as our support system until He comes again.
I haven’t been doing as well lately with my mind/body connection or my ability to overcome my own anxieties, so it was particularly helpful this Sunday morning to be reminded that acting on faith versus acting on fear can make a powerful difference in a person’s life. It’s even more powerful than breathing in and breathing out.
What difference does it make when you let fear drive you versus letting faith guide your life? First, let me define what I mean by fear. Fear is facing the world as if you are all alone in it, as if you are in control of everything that happens to you, as if you can somehow make bad things stay away or good things happen if you just do something enough.
There is a good kind of fear, and that is the fear of God, which I’ve always thought to be best understood as a deep kind of respect that comprehends as much as it is humanly possible to comprehend the awesome power and reach of our Maker.
This latter kind of fear can actually lead us to greater faith, the kind of faith that can guide us through life’s tough times and even “easy” moments. Fearing God enough to be guided by faith is what happened to Rahab of Jericho. You can read about her story in the book of Joshua.
Rahab was raised in a community that didn’t worship the God of the Jews, but they knew enough about what the Jews had done in the name of that God to fear Him. When Rahab encountered two Jewish spies in her town, she chose to act on the faith she had in their God’s power by protecting the men in exchange for the protection of herself and her family when the Jews ultimately defeated Jericho.
Rahab was rewarded for acting on faith instead of fear by becoming not only a part of the Israelite community from that moment on, but also becoming a part of that history for all time. Rahab shows up again in the genealogy of our Savior, which means she also was an ancestor to such greats as Ruth and David and Solomon. In the book of Hebrews, Rahab is mentioned again for her action of faith.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1 tells us. It takes practice to grow faith. It takes prayer and fellowship and doing things that make us afraid. But the more we take the scary steps, like Rahab did in hiding the Jewish spies, the more we will grow in faith, the more we will find ourselves being guided by our faith in our daily lives.
Want to know one of my steps of faith this week? I tried to write a post yesterday evening, but then I felt that God would give me something better to write if I would just wait until today. If you’d like to hear the sermon that helped me come up with this post, visit the Grace Crossing website.