Field Notes From A Prayer Warrior

-This is what the Lord says–the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it…

–Isaiah 42:5

-…since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

–Hebrews 17:25

*The following is a condensed chronicle of an eleven-year journey. I give the Lord all the glory…and all my gratitude.*

I’ve skipped through giant swaths of my life taking my health for granted…despite constant reminders…

“Health is wealth.”

“At least I have my health…”

“All the money in the world can’t buy you back health.”

Even Buddha…

“Health is the greatest gift.”

That gift includes breathing.

Such a basic process. Like your heartbeat, mostly you don’t think about it…you just do it.

Until you can’t.

June 2010:

Some internal alarm jolted me awake at 3 AM. My breathing was all wrong, my chest rising and falling in a series of rapid, shallow gasps. No amount of effort or adjustment helped, and although there was no pain, I was unable to produce any sort of substantial inhalation. I sat hunched over on the edge of the bed…panting, paralyzed, panicked…then pacing…finally finding something approaching normal function by tenting a towel over my head and a pot of boiling water.

That was the beginning.

Then came months packed with every X-ray, MRI, scan, and blood test that modern medicine could scrounge up. The diagnosis?

Inconclusive.

-inconclusive (adj): not leading to a firm conclusion or definite result

Translation: Several times a day, you can barely breathe. We can’t explain why.

We proceeded with a battle plan…of sorts…

For me, that was prayer.

For the doctors, it was “address the symptoms,” meaning meds…two different pills and the scariest inhaler I’d ever seen. And for a while, they helped…

Until they didn’t.

“Okay, God, I guess it’s just You and me.”

I prayed for answers, for effective treatments, for healing, for my breath to be “real” and “normal” again…

Followed by, “This is what I ask, but Your will be done. Your will, Your plan, Your timing are best. You’re going to help me deal. I trust You, even when I don’t understand…especially when I don’t understand.”

That’s not to say that henceforth I walked in zen-like Jesus peace and equilibrium, ruled by a “My power is made perfect in weakness” mindset.

Uh…nope.

At times, my humanity cut to the front of the line/cerebral cortex…

There were moments of laboring, again and again, to draw a semi-full breath, my heart starting to race, anxiety coursing through my body to a precipice of despair, where I just wanted to collapse on the floor, give in, give up, stop breathing, stop trying

And there He was…not just one day at a time, but, frequently, one breath at a time.

Nine years in

Sunday, during worship…

“It’s Your breath…in our lungs…so we pour out our praise, pour out our praise…”

Woah.

It’s. not. my. breath. It’s His.

That Monday…

Up to that point, it had been my custom, right after waking, to gauge my breath for the day…good day? okay day? bad day? can’t go to work day?

I opened my eyes…inhale…exhale…three times…okay day…

NO!

“Lord, it is a GREAT day, because I’m still here, You’re not done with me, and You are with me! Thank You! And thank You for this gift of breath! Whatever amount You have given me, it’s going to be enough.”

Give us this day our daily bread…

Give us this day our daily breath.

Two years pass

“Good morning, Lord!”

Inhale…

Oh. my. what?…

The air just kept flowing in, lungs inflating like they hadn’t since I was a teenager. I held it, chest completely expanded. I could feel the oxygen, like electrical impulses, surging from my center, outward, to my fingers and toes.

Exhale…wow! That was a long one!

Tears swimming in my eyes and raining down my cheeks…

“Really, Lord?”

“Yes, Shelbo,. Really.”

Inhale…holy crap! Exhale…

And again.

And again.

2 Corinthians 9:8–And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

So today, I breathe before my Father and make it worship…

*inhale* Thank…*exhale* You!

Praise…God!

For…breath!

My…life!

For…You!

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