Stop. Take a breath. A deep one. Exhale slowly. Let the name of Jesus be on your lips as you do it. Do it again.
Feel better? I know that it helps me when the pressure’s coming on to breathe Jesus in and breathe my burdens out. When I say the name, Jesus, I’m not chanting a mantra. I’m giving him everything, even my breath. As I repeat this exercise my awareness of Christ’s nearness, goodness and sovereignty fills my being. I start to gain perspective. Weight gets lifted off my shoulders. I begin to realise afresh that God is with me, loving me, for me. I take my place as a son, not a slave, and thus I take on the responsibilities of my life with a new attitude and a new freedom.
This isn’t just theory for me. It’s as essential to me as food and drink. I walk a lap around the park and almost always I start with breathing in and out, Jesus. I don’t even realise that I’m doing it. It’s as if my heart is so aware of its need that it prays before my mind catches up. From there, aware of Christ’s presence, I relax. I walk with him. If there are specific things to pray into then I do that with him as I walk. If not, then I relax, let tasks, people and assorted thoughts come to mind and give them to Jesus as they do.
Please don’t think of this as some super-spiritual mystical prayer experience. It’s normal, accessible and quite ordinary. Jesus is alive. He loves us. He is our brother and friend as well as our Lord and teacher. He’s given us his Spirit and we can trust that he is with us always. The problem is that in the busyness and noise of our world we simply forget to stop and breathe, Jesus. We put so much pressure on ourselves to ‘be on top of things’ or ‘ahead of the game’ that we forget to slow down, breathe and take our place in Jesus. We too often want Jesus to receive our life and make it work. Instead he asks us to receive his life and his work.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or Ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matt. 11:28-20 (Message)
This week is a busy one. There are sermons to write, meetings to attend and lead, broken people to tend and study to be done. This is on top of a busy week last week. But today I am choosing to slow down and breathe – Jesus. I am choosing to live in grace and rest. I am choosing to believe that I am a son who is loved by his true Father and Brother and that nothing ill-fitting or heavy will come to me from them. I choose to receive the life of Jesus and lay my life at his feet. I do all this while I breathe in and out his name – Jesus.