The breath of God and breath of life

February 25, 2022 by Rev. Erin Hayes-Cook

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (The Message)
Look at what I’ve done for you today: I’ve placed in front of you
Life and Good
Death and Evil.

And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in the Lord’s ways. Keep God’s commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.

But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won’t last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, our God, listening obediently to God, firmly embracing God. Oh yes, God is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

We’ve spent the last two years afraid to breathe on each other, with good reason. COVID-19 has changed how we minister, serve and live. The Old Testament teaches us that our breath is the divine life inside of us. Our lives have been altered in ways that are still unfurling. Resilience has beckoned to us again and again over these past years to dig deep and find the breath of life within us.

We have become more aware of our fragility, and it scares us. However, each day we are faced with a choice on how we might live, striving to tap into God’s invitation to abundant life or not.  Moses shares these words to the people who were slaves; they know trauma and loneliness of a different life.

But I believe the message for them and to us is an invitation to come back to ourselves as beloved children of God. Who knows what part of ourselves we’ve lost to exhaustion? God does. The beauty of a life with God is that we grow into the self that God is asking us to be now.

How is God inviting you to choose life today? It might be as simple as a vocational change or leaving space to breathe and invite the Spirit in. How might the God of life be breathing on you today?

Prayer: God of life, help me to leave space for your Spirit to work in my life. I choose life with you today. Help me to see your life-giving presence around me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Erin Hayes-Cook recently accepted a call to serve as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hackettstown, N.J. She previously served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Rahway, NJ, from 2013 to 2022. She has gained great joy in walking alongside the diverse communities she serves through her local presbytery and synod. She is looking forward to studying for a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Duke Divinity School. Rev. Hayes-Cook and her husband Lawrence welcomed their first child, a daughter, in June 2019.