Breathing Love’s Sting

It takes conviction to step out into a bitterly cold morning. With that first deep inhalation, icy oxygen pierces your lungs. To breathe at all invites a stinging pain, yet breath must be taken if life will continue.

So it is when stepping beyond the warmly regulated interiors of prominent western evangelicalism—beyond the recycled air of moralism which is held at a stagnant temperature of churchism so that everyone comfortably conducts their volunteerism. Admittedly, the space once provided basic protection as we began our relationship with the Lord. Gradually, though, as our intimacy with him grew, we noticed the interior’s walls closing in and limiting movement. The curtains were often closed and blocking Nature’s light. The plumbing kept cracking and we kept crying, “God! There’s gotta be more than this!”

To step outside took conviction. Every inhalation pierced. Each breath invited pain, yet had to be taken if life would continue.

Years passed and countless perils, too, as we pursued deeper union with him. Serving him was sweet, though not without sacrifice and constant mortification of selfishness. But now, unexpectedly, an air of aridity has settled in. It will not lift, and every day that it lingers, we live in lament. Returning to our special meeting places and repeating our spiritual practices, we find only dryness. How bitterly it stings! Each breath invites pain, yet must be taken if life will continue.

We open the Scriptures and words that once leapt from the page now just fall flat like a dribbling drone of ancient souls. How bitterly it stings! The dryness penetrates like a cold-but-precise instrument from which despair bleeds. God cannot be found in the darkness that surrounds. Sharing our distress with others only invites blank stares and cloaked criticisms. How bitterly it stings! Each breath invites pain, yet must be taken if life will continue.

The agony continues, somehow prodding us along through an incessant longing to be with him—without agenda or pretense—be with him—him—the God who could breathe the word and end our anguish, yet has not. What a bitter sting!

Could it be that there is something beyond these stings that is worth the pain? Indeed! It is a deeper union with God in Christ and the journey to it involves passion and pain. So, keep breathing, dear friend. Step onward with every ounce of conviction you possess because as each inhalation pierces, life in Christ continues.


Why is it hard to believe that love—even divine love—contains elements of pain?

Why is it difficult to endure pain in relationships—even with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Amy Leigh is a writer, landscape designer, organizational development specialist, and teacher living in Dallas, Texas. Her articles address themes in faith, culture, creation, the church, theology of the body, theology of women, and relationships.

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