Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:26-31
Maybe you’ve seen the vacant stare. Eyes open but not seeing. Breathing shallow breaths, lungs not filling with the breath of life. More recently I’ve not taken for granted this gift of breath. Through a sleep study, what my wife had told me was confirmed by hard data. According to the results, I stopped breathing 3 times (as I recall) in the 5 hours of the study. I also did something else – different from snoring – although I don’t recall the term. My bi-pap machine is now my night time friend. It helps me breathe.
But if you’ve seen the vacant eyes and shallow breaths of someone barely alive, you know the difference between machine-induced breath and the breath of life. The first cry of a newborn baby. The gasp of delight at the sight of the Christmas tree and all the presents on Christmas morning. The gulp of fresh mountain air on the ski slopes. The deep sigh of a day well-ended. These are all possible because God breathed into the man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).
Yes, I know I’m getting ahead of myself here. The “breathing into his nostrils…” doesn’t occur here in chapter 1. But look closely. It does mention “everything that has the breath of life in it” (v. 30). The point is two-fold here. Breath certainly hearkens back to the Spirit of God, hovering over the face of the deep (1:2). And the breath of Jesus over his disciples after his resurrection (John 20:22). It is also echoed when the Bible speaks of the Word of God being “inspired,” better yet, “God-breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16.
We may occasionally hold our breath in anticipation of the anxious moment being resolved. The game-winning field goal. The play at home plate. The moments that may seem like hours when we’re waiting for her to say, “yes.” When the point is scored, the date is set, and news is good, we let out a sigh of relief. We might even cheer. And as we do, we are echoing God’s out-breathing of life. And we certainly ought to recognize our need to give God the glory for another breath of life. Full. Blessed. Hope-filled. Or even if we must wait for the answer to our question or our prayer.