“God is like oxygen; you can’t see Him, but you can’t live without him.”
I read this today and I wanted to share it with someone I know who claims to not believe in God. It dawned on me then how silly it would be to share this with that person, because not believing in God, this sentiment would have no meaning to him, beyond an annoyance rather like a mosquito, and perhaps an eye rolling because that silly woman was promoting God at him again.
In a flash of thought that took maybe 3 seconds—amazing how fast our brains work, isn’t it? Especially damaged ones like mine—I remembered what this person was like in younger years. Trusting God, believing in God, pursuing God. And then I sadly recalled when this person’s belief, trust and faith were challenged to the point that this person gave up their faith for a more worldly, academic view of life. Somewhere along the way this person had adopted the idea that his faith in God was a covenant that should have spared him from the challenges and heartaches of life. Upon being challenged, this supposed covenant was broken, and the faith evaporated, but with a malice toward the perceived breaker-of-covenant, God Himself. I admit, I can only guess that this is the case, because this person has never willingly discussed his loss of belief and faith with me, and so, as a subject quite hostile, we avoid it. His assertion that if I loved him, I would not question him or mention this. My assertion that because I love him, I should do no less than mention this, over and over. For peace-sake, I try to keep this to myself in his presence, but I never cease in praying for him. Wow, three seconds to think it, but all these words to express it….
I share this with you, in reference to the above quote, because in that three seconds, I thought of God being like oxygen, and a stanza from a favorite praise song ran through my mind alongside these reflections. “This is the air I breathe, this is the air I breath, your Holy Presence, living in me…” and I thought too that if oxygen up and failed to support a person in the way expected, would one then turn on oxygen, deny it’s existence, claim to never have believed in oxygen, and declare that they no longer needed that non-existent oxygen at all!
Personally, I have a problem with breathing. That is that I am allergic to just about everything that floats in the air. Dust, mold, pollen—it really doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, I am allergic to something, and as a result, my breathing is often inhibited as my sinuses swell and I experience congestion and discomfort, persistent asthma, and shortness of breath. I get it from breathing. Breathing what I need most: oxygen. If I don’t get that oxygen into my system, we all know what happens. My brain stops functioning properly, my organs begin to shut down and I die, physically. So, despite the existence in the air of dust, pollen, mold, dander, hair… I breathe. I don’t feel like oxygen has in any way let me down because of the junk mixed in with it that makes me uncomfortable. I take in the oxygen and the allergens, the good with the bad, and accept it as just a reality of breathing, of living.
One thing that seems to be a factor with disillusioned Christians, is the idea that being Christians makes us immune to “bad things” happening in our lives. When the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Lets face it, the 12 apostles died primarily as martyrs, murdered for their faith. One can’t get less physically protected than that, I’d say. Christians were persecuted in the early years, their deaths made sport in Rome’s arenas; later those that didn’t wish to conform the corrupt demands of an overreaching Roman empire were hung, drawn (having one’s internal organs dragged out while still living), literally quartered up like a side of beef, or burned at the stake; Christians in Asia were tortured an killed as well; today, Christians in middle eastern countries, and Asia frequently find themselves in prisons and work camps for the small act of owning a Bible. Blinded, beaten, stripped, starved, their faith in God does not waver, in spite of their wretched physical condition. Their families torn apart, their physical bodies torn apart, and yet they pray to God for deliverance—not on this physical plane, but deliverance to eternal glory. James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
I’m not trying to play the “Children are starving in China” card here. (See how easy you’ve got it in comparison!! Nope, not in this essay) That is not my aim at all. What I’m trying to point out is that our declaration of faith is in no way a compact. “God, I will have faith in you, so long as my life is reasonably free of bumps and agitations. But if the going gets rough, then it’s YOUR fault, and I won’t believe in you any more.”
I don’t blame God for my troubles. Truthfully, I am the author of the majority of my problems. And usually when I decide I know better than God and take off and do my own thing without reference to His words and teaching. But others of my troubles I really have no culpability for. Just as I am honest enough to admit where I have messed up and caused my own trouble, I see clearly enough to know when I didn’t do anything to cause my own downfall. So who is to blame when I bear the consequences of actions not my own? Who is to blame when bad things happen and I am drowning in heartache and sadness, or physical pain? What about blind chance? Are those things God’s fault? Even if he didn’t cause them, why didn’t he prevent them? What’s the deal, God?
The fact is, that this world we live in is corrupt. People are corrupt, or at the very least corruptible. Surely, God could reach out and stop any one event from happening. Surely, He at times has reached out His hand and for His own reasons, stopped a bad thing from affecting particular people. But the fact is, that God gave every one of us the right, the ability, and certainly the personal will to make our own choices. This world was made perfect. God made it perfect. But it was humans, confronted by Satan, who chose to disobey God, and in their disobedience, they introduced the corruption we are drowning in today. Unless you are willing to give up your free will, don’t go asking God to take it away from others.
So when a cruel person acts out in a cruel manner and harms another person, it isn’t because God failed, it is because that person chose to act out in evil. When a person dies “unexpectedly,” it isn’t because God failed to keep them from dying, it is because we failed to remember to expect everyone to die—as natural as all people being born, is the natural reality that all people die. When life events seem to fly away from us and we feel as though it is all out of control and we can’t understand why, it isn’t because God failed to arrange things for us, it’s because life events usually really are outside of our control, and God never promised to smooth the road for us. It is at those times that our faith is refined from alloy to pure gold—or…Not refined, based upon our choices and expectations.
James 1:2-4Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So, when I get a stuffed nose and start hacking and coughing and sneezing, I don’t blame oxygen. Oxygen is just as pure and good and necessary as ever it was. It’s the stuff inevitable in this world that gets added to the oxygen that causes those breathing difficulties. I don’t turn my back on oxygen, I don’t deny it’s existence. I breathe, and I take the good with the bad.
In the same way, when I am bogged down in trouble, pain and sorrow, I don’t blame God. He is as ever he was: perfect, incorruptible, loving, trustworthy. Just because this world is messed up and full of corruption, I don’t hold God responsible. Lets face it, we can thank humans and Satan for the corruption we live with today. God is Always pure, Holy and good. I breathe Him in, and take the greatness of God along with the corruption of evil. My job is to use my free will in a right way, to use it to pursue God’s purity, His “rightness”, His Holiness, His Good.
Here recently I was in the emergency room with distressed breathing, another bout of bronchitis and sure enough, one of the first things the staff did was get me breathing pure oxygen. I love the clear minded, giddy feeling I get when I get to breath pure oxygen. I just wish the tubing didn’t smell so odd.
Just like that breathing mask, when I am faced with trouble, rather than turning my back on God, it is then that I need a straight shot of God, His word, His will, His praises, like I needed that straight oxygen, being poured into the mask I wore, until my O2 saturation was back up at the right level. I need to keep God in my blood, in my airways, in my every organ, up at the right level.
Well, that’s what I got from a picture on Facebook and a 3 second flash of thought. I sure would value any feedback or thoughts on this.