Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
A few years ago I crossed an item off of my bucket list, and it is an item that has been on the list for probably thirty years or more; I am now a certified scuba diver. Having completed my four open water dives in a local quarry, I can now add a red sticker with a white stripe to the back of my vehicles. Believe me, it is an awesome experience. Even in the dark waters of the quarry, it was amazingly interesting to see a Volkswagen Bug, bounce a bowling ball on a metal platform thirty feet deep, and reach out and touch fish who are so used to humans that they are not at all afraid. I am looking forward now to going into some warm, clear blue waters to swim around coral reefs and with salt water creatures in their habitat.
I learned, thought, that Scuba is not at all like it is portrayed in the movies. Is anything ever? For starters, it is very hard to simply dive down or sink down into the water. You actually have to weight yourself down to make yourself able to sink. Additionally, the movies constantly show people in vehicles plunging into very deep waters, and then when the vehicle finally comes to rest on the bottom, the person will take a deep breath, exit the car, and swim straight back up to the top holding their breath the entire way. But I learned that air in the lungs is compressed at depth, and expands as you rise to the top. Thus, a person doing what is seen on the movies would have the unfortunate problem of having his lungs literally expand and explode if he tried that.
And that brings me to the first rule of scuba diving: never stop breathing.
My wife Dana and I actually got Scuba certified together. And while I love water, she is a bit claustrophobic, and the depths seemed to close in on her. She survived by holding my hand very tightly and repeating to herself, “All I need is air, and I have that. Just keep breathing.”
As long as a person breathes, he or she will be fine. It is instinctive to hold your breath once you go under water, but following that instinct will kill you. This knowledge leads to a beginning scuba diver repeating to himself over and over “just keep breathing, just keep breathing.” And that brings me to a very important, maybe even life-saving thought.
In the book of Job we find a man in utter, suicidal despair. In Job 3:20-22 he said “Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?” Job was as despondent and hopeless as a human could ever be. He lost his children, his wealth, his health, his reputation, his closeness with his wife, he lost most everything. But though he himself claimed that he wanted to die, look at how the story ended in Job 42:12-17: “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters… After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.”
Job, in his lifetime, went from despair to delight. And though there are many spiritual reasons given in the book as to why, there is also one very practical reason: he just kept breathing.
Many times we have helped people through divorce and other gut-wrenching events. Many times dear members of our church have experienced the sudden, unexpected, tragic loss of a loved one. Each time we have held them tightly in a hospital conference room, and in answer to their question “What am I going to do?” we have answered “Just keep breathing.” When you are going through unspeakable darkness and anguish, just keep breathing. When your world is caving in, just keep breathing. When your heart is shattered into a million shards of glass, just keep breathing. You see, if you are still here, then God still has a purpose for you, and you still have a future. You may not be able to see it, but Job could not see it either. There are still people that you can help, there are still days of happiness ahead of you. One of the dear people that we held in the hospital went on to welcome a precious grandchild into the world, and now she has almost too many to count, and they are her world. She just kept breathing.
If you need some help, get it. Talk to a pastor, a counselor, a friend, someone. But whatever you do, just keep breathing. Good things eventually happen when you breathe for one more day, then another, then another…
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org