Spiritual Practice

Gasping for God

Kate Schmelzer

As I rounded first base, my throat seems to tighten. By the time I reached second base, my throat was on fire. No matter how much air I tried to gasp, I couldn’t breathe. When I collapsed on the softball field and was taken to the hospital, I was diagnosed with asthma.

Asthma is just a fancy name for tightness in my chest, wheezing in my lungs, and sometimes long bouts of coughing—the breathing problems that are most often brought on when I exercise for long periods of time or when I am around dust, grass, or hairy animals.

If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and all mortals return to dust.
Job 34:14-15 (NRSV)

Being unable to breathe is scary. During an attack, all my attention is focused on needing one thing—air. Usually my medicine and other people’s prayers kick in, and I am able to breathe again and to resume my daily activities.

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder what it would be like to be that desperate for God. How would my heart and life change if I allowed my soul to gasp for God, to need God in the same way that my body needs air? How would you change?


PRAY PSALM 42:1 (NIV): “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”

—from devozine (March/April 2009). Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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