In the most claustrophobic and confining spots, sometimes I have to remind myself to just breathe. Especially on a plane, and nowadays, especially with a mask on. Remember to breathe in slowly and out slowly. Full breaths, no partial breaths. I’ve always wondered why stressful situations bring about a reduced intake of fresh air. Why we forget to breathe. Why exhaling is such a relief after a near car collision, and why inhaling (of course) is such a literal lifesaver. Yet sometimes we forget to do it.
Rerouting physical air is a thing I do in my house with the HVAC vents. As an allergy sufferer, I close off vents or partially obstruct vents that are directly pushing air toward me. I also redirect the air flow in directions that reduce my sensitivity. If only air didn’t carry dust with it or other non-fresh things. And why do we all like to get outside and get some “fresh” air? Likely because staying inside the house, air recirculates and gets stale. Likely because outdoors, unless someone is blowing leaves, the air seems clean and big. I can only imagine that God designed our lungs to breathe perfectly balanced clean air, fully and deeply, in the pre-fallen world before sin entered the picture…
Similar to HVAC vents, as if I didn’t want to experience God’s encompassing grace fully and freely, I am so often guilty of closing the vents of my heart, sometimes slightly, sometimes completely. I can easily start off a day closing the vents of my heart to the outflow of God’s Spirit through me to others. I cannot count the times that I have shirked intentional gospel conversations with others. How often do I tug myself away from God’s strengthening power to try to do good things in my own strength and understanding? Too many for sure.
The unobstructed flow of grace I have received from God through faith is the same flow of grace that I should be able to freely give to others. Tamping down the vents of my heart is the same thing as withholding God’s best. Moreover, it is subtle, but second best to live life for the heart of Christ or for the smile of God when first best to live life from the heart of Christ or from the smile of God. The difference is in the “openwideness” of the vents of my heart. When I live from my identity as a child of Christ, the action flows out of my motivational headquarters. It’s not an external thing, but something from inside. “From” the heart of Christ is the way I reflect the actual Person of Jesus instead of a set of doctrines or a church. Unrestricted flow of gentleness, tenderness, and loyal loving-kindness is the “from” version of open vents of my heart, open to the heart of Christ living in me.
Galatians 2:20 says it better, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In this way I am living out the life Christ has planted within me without reservation, with the full force of flow from vents that are wide open.
As my heart here refers not to my flesh-and-blood circulatory system pump, but to the seat of my will, inclinations and actions, I love the open vent metaphor. I know a legal spirit of judgment and spiritual blindness is what often pushes the vents of my heart shut. Yet in Christ, I really don’t want the air of my heart to get stale or stagnant. There might be some good deeds that I’ll do, but they will flow from something much lower than the fresh blow of God’s Spirit when He cleans out the impurities and prepares me to live from His heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” God has promised to remove the stone-like qualities of a heart that constricts its own vents. Imagine days where the vents of our hearts are wide open and nothing is flowing except the fruits of God’s Spirit. Imagine days where all that is blowing is the fresh air of God’s Spirit coming from within us. Imagine days where our new heart of flesh sees stone no more.
Praying God opens the vents of my heart and your heart today.