Keep in step: breathe in grace, breathe out faith

“Breathe in grace, breathe out faith.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what Stephen meant by this, although I guessed it had something to do with day-to-day living out the Christian life.

Stephen Hunt, a graduate in geography from the University of Sussex, whom I knew when he was a member of the Christian Union, now works as an intern with the YMCA in Exeter. He describes himself as having ‘a big heart for development and an even bigger heart for God’. Wonderful!

He kindly elaborated on that catchy sentence above.

‘For me, it sums up beautifully the nature of our daily walk with God and we can draw so much wisdom from this small phrase.

Our daily journey is a constant tug-of-war between two competing lives: our worldly lives and our godly life.

We, as humans, can find ourselves on the precipice between these two competing agendas, each wanting both feet firmly in their camp. This presents challenges, hardships, conflicts and obstacles, each one demanding of us in one way or another.

There can be a constant struggle between these two lives, and this can be incredibly draining.

‘Do we ever find at times we get exhausted by life? We’re constantly tired, grumpy, burnt out, and just want to hide away from everybody else? I do. We as Christians need to ask God into our daily walk on a daily basis. After all, that’s what it says in the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. But do we pray and ask God specifically to give us our daily bread, daily? Or at least think about it in such a way? When we do, we are asking for opportunities to learn about and encounter him – our daily nourishment, our daily bread.

‘And so, coming back to those daily hardships I mentioned, could they, just possibly, be God’s way of giving us our daily bread? He gives us the opportunity to experience him in every situation, which can be a lesson or blessing, or both, but either way he is in it. We just need to seek him out.

God’s Spirit requires collaboration, not intervention. This is where his grace comes in.

‘As we increasingly turn our focus to him and give over all our worries and stresses of life, we receive an invitation to walk with him.

Through this he walks with us and carries us through all our circumstances giving us the chance to learn, trust and grow in his ways and his walk.

‘I love what it says in Proverbs 16, 9 that ‘the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.’

By our turning our lives over to him on a daily basis we are given that opportunity to enter into a relationship that frees us from daily concern, and each situation becomes a step to experience him.

We may plans our paths, but ultimately, in order to succeed along our journey we need to know where to place our feet.

‘So this is what I mean by ‘Breathe in grace, breathe our faith.’

By giving each day to God, he in return gives us an invitation, by grace, to learn and grow in faith and trust.

It is pretty incredible really, because as we do this, we not only move further away from that precipice of life and into his camp, but the more we do it the more we grow in faith to continue receiving his grace.

‘Breathing in grace and breathing out faith is a cyclical practice, and is one that, quite poetically, reminds us and guides us towards that end goal of where we originally came from. Coming full circle in him.’

My goodness. Not sure about you, but I feel quite blown away by all of that, and realise that I have a long way to go. Getting there, slowly. Always learning.

Thank the Lord for Stephen, and people like him in their mid-twenties, who can teach us older Christians so much!