When I was a child I would sometimes think intently about the process of breathing. When I would do this, it would seem to remove the breathing auto-pilot, so that I had to consciously decide to inhale and to exhale and to inhale again. The manual process of breathing terrified me. It seemed inevitable that I would become distracted by something else, would forget this rhythm of breath, and then I would die of asphyxiation.
We all know that you don't die when you forget to breath; your body just takes over again and lets you get back to eating cheese and/or reading Calvin and Hobbes. Literally everything you've done in life depended on breathing, and most of the time you had nothing to do with it.
Nobody has ever lectured me on the importance of regular breathing. I've done it ever since a doctor slapped my ass in the delivery room. And I don't think that, once I learned how oxygen is moved through the body by the blood, I then decided that I should start doing that rather than just keeping it in my lungs. I think that was already happening. I am fairly certain that the most vital process that is keeping me alive has nothing at all to do with my understanding of it.
I wonder if my soul works the same way as my body. Does it breathe the Spirit of God each moment despite my understanding it? Is it ingesting divinity and growing holy without any brilliant mental insights from the books I read or great experiences from the worship services I attend?
It would be easy to beat this to death and ask about smoking and lung disease and whatever. I'm sure you could have a fun discussion about that. The point I'm trying to make is that maybe God designed our soul to feed on him despite our all-powerful mental faculty supervising it. Maybe more of our spiritual life is out of our hands than we like to think. And maybe that’s a good thing, the same way that having the moment-by-moment task of breathing be set on default is a good thing.
Lane Severson blogs at On Pop Theology and Out of Ur. He likes charismatic liturgy and listening to Kanye West or Jay Z with his wife and five children. Lane can be found at about.me/lseverson or on Twitter @_lxnx.
Image #1 via TiloArte
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