I watched her sleeping, my littlest one. Her eyes closed, those lashes gently laying softly on those precious cherub cheeks, her lips closed, soft, laden with peace. I nestled in and wrapped my arm around her chest, feeling its rise and fall. I felt the beating of her precious little heart as her sweet familiar scent infused thanksgiving into my being.
I remembered many times before, watching her sleep. At 5 weeks old, I glanced at her, bundled in her bassinet next to my bed, no bigger than a little loaf of bread. Eyes closed, same beautiful lashes and lips, same vivid visual assurance with that rise and fall of her chest.
That same baby girl laid in my arms many times and I let her fall asleep there…and I watched her. Nothing else had my attention. Nothing else mattered. Those eyes, those lashes, those lips, that smell, that reassuring rise and fall.
That rise and fall brought true rest to my being, rest of a supernatural kind. And it wasn’t just a calm feeling, it was true peace that just for a moment separated me from all else. I was invited into her rhythmic breathing cadence. And as I took my own breaths in and out to match hers, my body released fear, strife and soul unrest. I was present with indescribable thanksgiving, the kind that brings the salty water tipping over onto my cheeks.
And it got me thinking…just what would it really feel like to synchronize my breathing cadence to that of Jesus’s? What would make me live in the “pause” long enough to see things like the rise and fall of my little one’s chest? And then, just how would I make these moments into hours, days, weeks and years? How could I live with the kind of peace that the rise and fall give to me each and every time I am able to get there?
The moments…when I hug my oldest after he opens up about his fears and I feel it – the rise and fall of his little chest as he exhales into his mama and we breath in and out together. The moments when I hold my sensitive middle child, tears bathing his cheeks, as he shares his broken little heart that a friend refused to play with him. He inhales sharply and his exhale is fragmented between tears…but he nestles in closely…he begins to match my own rise and fall and his little body surrenders, mama peace warming and soothing his precious soul. The moments when my husband stops to kiss my lips before leaving for work and we take that split second to connect, eyes meeting, hearts leaping and he grabs me close to him for a hug…rise and fall…I feel his being and his warmth surround me like a warm fuzzy blanket on the coldest winter day.
How I long to be that connected to Jesus. I long to be able to recognize each moment that he reaches out to me and breathe him in and out…rise and fall. It takes only moments to experience the rise and fall of human breathing. But dare I say, it often takes a lifetime of moments to experience fully the rise and fall of deep connection with Jesus. This connection requires pause, rest and a release very similar to the one experienced when watching an infant during sweet slumber.
What is it that keeps me from this sweet release, this life of surrender? It is the feeling of the burden, the relentless grip the world has on me…Oh, I am tired, I am weary, I am burnt out…I…I…I…
Jesus says, “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.” – Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
The unforced rhythms of grace…don’t you love that?! Jesus does not promise an end to all labor/work/strife/distraction, rather and invitation to recover our lives, living freely and lightly with the ONE who can carry our burdens, whatever they may be, unique to each of us.
The rest he offers is found when we spend time with him and learn to emulate him. It happens when we are SO close to him that we can see, and it’s not just the seeing…it’s the hearing, breath moving…infusing life giving oxygen, moving in and out warmth to brush our cheek such like a kiss…where we can almost feel it leaving a gesture of genuine love. And it is even the smell of the breath, the smell that with one sweet aroma whiff heals the deepest of wounds with its permeating and penetrating salve.
It happens when we allow His word to become flesh, the very words inhaling and exhaling as they infuse our souls with new life purpose. It happens when we recognize our own rise and fall, our own soul yearnings and we pause for ourselves…taking the time to let Him lead. He wants us to learn from him by knowing him and learning his cadence…He wants us to be present with Him…where we catch ourselves breathing in and out His unforced rhythm of grace. He is calling us to abide in Him…and in that abiding, that connection to the true vine, our every movement will be guided, influenced and connected to Him.
I encourage you to take note of your own chest rise and fall today. Breathe in and out Jesus.