Our class, led by a park ranger on the wonders of the Grand Canyon, had just ended. It was summer break, the kids were off school, and we were on a road trip to see Grand Canyon National Park with my husband’s mom. It had been a lovely few days together. As the class ended, all those crammed into the small open-air building began standing up and stretching - several dozen children, a handful of adults. I reached out my hands towards my kids, and that’s when we noticed our youngest son was missing. Just moments earlier he had been seated next to us on the ground. Now he was nowhere to be found, and just on the other side of the paved lookout area was Grand Canyon’s famous rock face, a sheer drop-off tumbling downward. Those cliffs may be stunning to look at, yet they’re deadly to the unsuspecting or too curious.
I immediately began yelling at the top of my voice, “My young son is missing! He’s wearing a yellow shirt! He’s about this (gesturing) high!” Some people stopped and stared, others began running toward the edge, calling his name.
I couldn’t breathe, my heart pounded. I ran around the perimeter of the building, back toward the front, where I thought I was going to pass out from dizziness, when suddenly a big local-looking guy came running toward me, “Is this your missing son?” He gently prodded a reluctant, sheepish-looking kid wearing a yellow shirt toward us. It was our missing son! As I ran to him, enveloping my son in my arms and thanking the helpful stranger, I slowly exhaled, realizing I had been holding my breath in for longer than was comfortable.
Sometimes this is more easily said than done. Breathing comes more or less naturally when everything’s business as usual. Inhale, exhale. In and out. Taking in air and releasing it out.
But when there’s uncertainty in our lives, when we’re not sure what’s happening with our future, when we’re stressed, it’s easy to hold on to that breath, to keep it in there, even if we desperately need, for our own health, to release it in an exhale. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath even now when I’m worried or stressed. And yet I don’t need to hold my breath. I can release it to God, who holds all. I am held by God’s loving embrace, no matter what, and so are you. You can breathe, too.
Today, is there anything in your life that you’re holding your breath over? Anything you need to release (exhale) to God? Do you have worries about your family or finances? Are you holding your breath over anything or anybody you’re concerned about in our Wellspring community? In today’s text we find that Jesus, facing the biggest unknown of death, is able to release his breath to God, exhaling out in a final expression of trust. “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
“Just breathe.” Let’s do it together. In and out. Inhale and exhale. You can let go of whatever it is you’re holding today. God has us, right here, in God’s arms, prodding us forward, uniting us together, holding us in God’s embrace.