Do you ever just randomly let out a big sigh, for no apparent reason?
It happens to me every now and then, and whenever I do it, my wife Julez invariably asks me whether I’m doing okay — being the kind and compassionate person that she is, she wants to make sure I’m not sighing in despair or frustration or pain. Generally, all is well, and my somewhat tongue-in-cheek reply is usually that yes, I’m fine, I just happened to have too much air in my lungs at that moment! The sigh is a little bit like a bonus breath out, expelling all the extra air that’s been floating around in my lungs, resetting and refreshing my body to carry on again.
Whether that’s biological, medical or psychological, I have no idea, but as I reflected on one this morning, it got me thinking about how, perhaps, I needed a ‘sigh for the soul’ as well. How, perhaps, with all the different things I’m living with at the moment and despite my best attempts to compartmentalise and box them all up into different areas, there were a few stray things floating around in my soul that needed sighing out, allowing my very self to reset and refresh to carry on again.
It’s so easy for the pressures of work, home, family, finances, relationships, health, fears, dreams, decisions and a hundred other things to loom so large in our thinking that they crowd out everything else. DL Moody writes “before we can pray for God to come and fill us, we need to pray for Him to come and empty us”, yet, praying to be emptied doesn’t mean that those things don’t matter. If anything, it’s about recognising that they matter so much that we can’t do them on our own; that we don’t have the skill or strength (or sanity!) to spin all of the plates of the modern world at the same time. That with David in Psalm 55, we need to be those who “Cast your cares on the Lord” and know that “he will sustain you”. We need moments to breathe out all we are living with, to let our souls sigh, before we can reset and refresh again, being refilled to carry on again.
As we often say in Oasis, perhaps what we need is a moment to pause, to centre on God, and then to continue in all He has for us today.
If you resonate at all with that, perhaps you need a ‘sigh for the soul’ too? We run an Early Morning Prayer session every Wednesday morning at Oasis, from 7:30am-8am on Zoom, and this morning, Alice led us through an exercise that definitely provided that sort of moment. Perhaps you might like to try it as well?
Simply read each of the below lines from Psalm 23 (New Living Translation), pausing between each section to breathe out, and allowing God to meet with you in the silence and stillness. Allow Him to lift off the things that are weighing you down, reset your perspective, and carry them with you. Take a moment to centre yourself on Him again, sighing out all the ‘stuff’ that you are living with, and breathing in His goodness.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honour to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honour me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord