Note: The trainer did not come with the bike!
Most of us aren't conscious of breathing until some physical disorder or outside condition like the soaring pollen count in the magnificent blossoming trees in spring obstructs or inhibits its normal function. As a result of lung cancer surgery to remove a part of my lung almost three decades ago, I have experienced progressively diminishing lung capacity in my later years.
Presently, I'm in the midst of Physical Therapy in an effort to conserve what lung capacity remains and strengthen my balance which also becomes a challenge along with the blessing of longevity. I huff and I puff through my exercise routine, but I guarantee that the Three Little Pigs in the children's story wouldn't be in danger of my blowing their house down.
From time to time I go through a pulmonary function test. It's a pretty high tech procedure these days. I sit in a clear plastic box that looks like a phone booth. I'm tested through Spirometry to measure the force and amount of air leaving my lungs, through a Diffusion test to show how well my lungs move oxygen into my blood, and several lung volume tests with different mixtures of air. The latter measures how much air I inhale and exhale or remains in my lungs.
I've always been a runabout in the fast lane in my lifestyle. Now, shortness of breath has become an accepted part of my not-so-new normal. I can't even complete an exercise walk as I did previously. A flight of stairs is like an obstacle course. Nighttime breathing is an additional difficulty since I must use a CPAP device connected by a hose which constantly forces air into a nose-piece to alleviate my Sleep Apnea.
I will happily accept kudos, however, for my committed routine of eight miles daily on my slick Schwinn Recumbent bike. I call it my “Harley.” In case you are wondering, it takes 40 minutes to go nowhere 8 miles—in front of the TV.
As Job declared, “My days are but a breath.” A breath is all that separates this world and the next for everyone. So I'm thankful for every sustaining breath I take and for whatever measure of breathing capacity God sees fit to apportion to me. I'm conscious of the Source from which my breath came and continues to come—God. He breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of the first man. Jesus Christ breathed on His followers to receive the Holy Spirit in power to be His witnesses. “[God] gives to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25).
In gratitude and in stewardship for the generosity of God who has lovingly lavished upon me more than ninety three years of breathing from my first infant breath, I want to use my remaining breath for Him in the way it pleases Him—by praising God and sharing Him with others. “Let everything that has breath (that includes us all) praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)
The Holy Spirit, the Breath of God dwelling within those of us who belong to Jesus, is not in short supply. Infilling as needed is always available. As I drift off to sleep at night, I often gratefully repeat in rhythm with my breathing the first phrase of the hymn: “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew.” Each stanza speaks meaningfully to me: “That I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do. Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure, until with Thee I will one will, to do and to endure. Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine, till all this earthly part of me, glows with Thy fire divine. Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die, but live with Thee the perfect life, of Thine eternity.”
I expressed it my way in one of my poems:
WITH EVERY BREATH
I praise You, Lord,
with every breath
and every thought
with singers and sages
throughout all ages
with all saints on earth
and heaven's host
praise the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost.
I join my breath today
and with my voice proclaim
Your matchless holy Name
with earth and heaven acclaim
Your benevolent sovereignty.
You rule the universe
yet deign to stoop
to reign in me, Lord of my life
a finite reflection
of Your creativity.
I praise You, O Lord!
I celebrate You!
Applaud You! Magnify You!
Exalt You, lift You high
yet how can I
when You are already
I glorify what You are
and do, Majestic hitherto
and still today
declared by my breath
and tongue of mortal clay.
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