The Breath of God

entrance to old mine

Curiosity and zeal for adventure provoked a small band of teenagers to succumb to the urge to explore an old mine they knew about on the side of a large mountain. The mine had once been the center of much activity, but when the quantities of ore began to dwindle, so did interest in pursuing it any further. Many past reports had told how huge the mine had become over the years, having branched off into many tunnels that sprawled over several miles. This proved to be the lure that these young teenagers could not resist. Their plan was to get into the mine somehow, and then go only a short distance, just to see what it was like. Before they realized it, they ended up traveling further and further away from the main air shaft where they had so carefully come in.

After about three hours of climbing throughout vast stretches of the mine, the group encountered a junction where the tunnel they were hiking in forked into three more tunnels. They were wary of splitting up, unsure about what they might encounter ahead. So they finally decided to remain together and take the tunnel they thought might lead them back toward the entrance. By this time, they were getting hungry and growing tired from all of their exploring in such a huge place.

partially lit cave
unsplash-logoMatt Kochar

Step after step after step, they trudged on. They had started with one flashlight each, but now had only two left between all of them that still worked. One of the units had reached the dimmest point since they began, and they had already used up all their spare batteries. Then the other light was dropped accidentally when they almost fell off of a small cliff. Now the tunnel they were in seemed to wind on endlessly, with no exit in sight. After another hour of wandering, the lone flashlight finally quit shining, leaving them in utter darkness. All hope of escape began to fade away. Weary from all their wandering, one by one they slumped down onto the floor of the mine. One girl began to tremble and sob almost uncontrollably, succumbing to the fear that she would never to be found again and would die there. Two others tried to hold her and console her. The oldest boy began to question himself out loud, wondering why they had ever dared to go this far in the first place. Another boy began angrily throwing various sized stones and rubble at the walls and down the tunnel in frustration.

Then the girl who had been consoling the sobbing girl remembered something she had heard her grandfather once say. He had worked briefly as a coal miner decades before. In one of the many stories of his life, he mentioned that if he ever got lost in the mine, or if his light quit working, he knew that he should stop and remain very still. Then he would try to feel what direction the air was moving, since the air always moved upward toward the air shaft, and ultimately, the way out. Although the others were skeptical when they first heard this, one by one they began to just sit still and wait. They continued to wait and wait for some time in hopeful anticipation, not really knowing what to expect. Then one of them suddenly jumped onto his feet and shouted, “I felt it! I felt it!” Moments later another burst out, “Me, too! I felt it on the side of my face!” Then another and another said the same, until all of the teens had sensed the gentle waft of air.

They determined that the air was actually coming from the direction that they had thought would bring them to the way out. So they turned around and began to walk in the opposite direction, heading back where they had come from. Even though they had lost the main source of light, they were still able to slowly find their way, guided by the gentle glow of their cellphones and other assorted small electronic devices they had in their pockets. Whenever they became unsure of their way, they would stop and wait again until they felt the ever-so-gentle movement of air, and then continue in its direction. Finally, they arrived back at the air shaft and scrambled up out of the mine, back to the remaining light of day.

people leaving mine

In life, there will be many points where you will also find yourself in the darkness and lost at times, with no apparent way out. It might be that your source of light has gone out, and you are not able to find the rest of the way to go. You may have been wandering and your light has not yet gone out, but you don’t know what direction to take next. Your life may have been progressing just fine, and then suddenly, everything goes into confusion and you do not have a clue as to what to do. Does any of this apply to you? Don’t fall apart in despair. Don’t succumb to a fit of needless anger, or collapse into a pool of tears.

It is in times like these that a gentle and sweet breath from God will come to you. Sometimes it is so subtle and discreet that you hardly notice it is there. Most often, there will be a time of sitting still and waiting before you sense its presence. When you do, make sure you don’t ignore it and turn to follow your own way. Don’t feel that it is too insignificant to be of any value. Instead, yield yourself to God and be led by it. He wants to bring you out of the darkness and confusion that you are in, but it takes desire and effort on your part for the breakthrough to happen. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). The Lord wants you to stop trusting in what you think is the best way out, and to learn to lean on Him for guidance. While it may seem contrary to you, by doing so you will find yourself being led out of your hopeless dilemma into “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Even though you don’t see Him, God is always there with you. “Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name” (Psalm 33:20,21).

Seeing the Whole City

city skyline in daytime

Suppose you live in a very large city, and friends you haven’t seen for many years come to visit for a short time. After you all chat a while, they say that they want to “see your city.” Naturally, you are eager to oblige. You get everyone in your vehicle and proceed to show them the city. You drive to the waterfront first, telling highlights of various buildings of importance along the way. Then you head up a large hill to the north side where they can see the city’s skyline. You mention additional points of interest visible from there. Next you go into the heart of downtown. You let them wander around a bit to look at various shops, landmarks, and parks the city has to offer. Then you shuttle them to the tourist section on the east side. Everyone, including you, is exhausted after this tour. You finish off the day by stopping for dinner at a well-known restaurant on the way home.

city skyline night panorama

During the meal, you ask if your guests enjoyed seeing the city. They agree that what they have seen is very nice and interesting, but then they say they would still like to “see the city.” Even though this reply puzzles you, you take them out again the following day to “see the city.” You escort your friends to the subway station early the next morning to take them all around the city. You take the blue line, the green line, the yellow line, wherever the subway lines go—that’s where you all end up going. After nearly getting lost three times, you all finally arrive back home in late afternoon. During the meal that evening, you casually inquire again if they feel that they have now “seen the city.” To your surprise, they conclude that everything that you have shown them has been wonderful and they are very grateful for your efforts. But, they still would like to “see the whole city.” After a long sigh, you reluctantly agree to do your best once more to show them “the whole city” before they return home.

Now you are really stumped for a solution to fulfill their request. You have done all you could to “show them the city”; what else could you possibly do to satisfy their request? The next day you contact friends in the city for advice, but they are as clueless as you are for a solution. Late that night, as you are just about to fall asleep, the perfect answer finally strikes you. The next morning, after everyone has eaten breakfast, you announce that you know a way that just might fulfill their desire to “see the whole city.” After a few phone calls, everyone gets into your vehicle again and you head to a small airport just outside city limits. There you meet up with an old friend who does aerial photography. He gladly agrees to take you and your friends up to “see the whole city.” After pointing out all the various places of interest in the city from the air, he brings everyone back down to the airport. Only a few moments after exiting the plane, your friends gleefully express their satisfaction. They all eagerly agree that they have really “seen all of the city” this time. They can now return home to tell everyone all about your city.

aerial view of sprawling city

How often have you felt that God is sometimes unfair and cruel is His actions toward you or others? When a tragedy, natural or manmade, strikes the lives of innocent individuals, do you question or blame God? Do you become confused or angry when the wicked prosper and those who do good fall into poverty or despair? How often do you face a problem that seems unsolvable or face a situation where you feel defeated before you even do anything?

Your confusion, anger, and despair all stem from the fact that you are coming to all of your conclusions based on a single area that you see of “the whole city” (or situation). As a result, you wonder why God allowed these things to happen, as if He can only see this one area too. But, thankfully, God always sees the big picture or “the whole city.” While you only see one part at a time, God sees “the whole city” all of the time. When a circumstance occurs in your life or someone else’s, it is only a part of “the whole city.” If you were to go up in the air and look down over the city like your friends did, then you would see just how your problem or area of the city connects with all of the rest of it. You would also be able to see just how small your problem really is from God’s point of view.

city block at street level

You may be wondering by now why you cannot see “the whole city” like God sees it. It is because you, in your finite physical body, could not handle such a view. You would be overwhelmed beyond despair. Our loving Heavenly Father knows these limitations and spares you from things beyond your current comprehension or physical ability. He has no intention of harming you by placing you in an area beyond your capability.

Instead, you are to trust in Him. When you feel overwhelmed by the situation that surrounds you, just put your concern and despair into His hands. Let Him take care of it.

When you don’t understand why things turned out the way that they did, just remember that He sees “the whole city,” the big picture, and the connection these things have to everything else that you cannot see.

When He chooses to move you to another area “of the city” or expand your existing area, don’t resist or rebel. Let Him do the work He desires for your life. Many trials and circumstances occur in your life because you thought you knew better and refused to allow Him to work in your life.

On the other hand, don’t feel limited to just seeing the small area you are in now. As you spend more and more time in His Word, and begin to grow in Him, don’t be afraid to ask Him to open your eyes to see more “of the city.” “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed [circled] the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17). Elisha’s servant could only see the small picture of the enemy that had them surrounded. This view looked hopeless. He could see no way of escape. But there was something in the bigger picture that the servant could not see. When God opened the servant’s eyes at Elisha’s request, he could then see a bigger portion of the picture. It contained a mountain “full of horses and chariots of fire,” a picture of something far greater than the limited one of a seemingly impossible situation.

panoramic view of city at twilight

Remember, God is not limited to only the view “of the city” that you see; He looks at “the whole city.” He knows what is going on everywhere at any given moment and how everything going on is connected to everything else. His hands are not tied. He is not helpless regarding what is happening in your area at any given moment. He sees the big picture and He has a plan. He wants you to trust in His plan, regardless of how you see things now or later. Then you can say, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion” (Psalm 71:1).

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).