In & out // an introduction

There's 15 seconds left and the car is being briefed on the rules.
Take your biggest breath and hold on as long as you can.
If you can make it to the end, you win.

You gulp the biggest chunk of air, add a few extra top ups for good measure and brace yourself as the last bit of light from the sun dissipates and the car is submerged into the darkness. 

40 seconds in, you start to feel your eyes bulging out,  and you let little bits of air escape. Everyone in the car starts looking at one another the eager anticipation building. 

A little bit of light is spotted in the distance. 

Explosive exhales and the groans of others giving up are happening all around you. The streams of light are bursting through the windows. 

You let out a relieved long exhale. 

Your lungs hurt a little and you let your breath settle the usual, in and out. 

Your whole body is thanking you for letting it return to a much more rich, oxygen filled experience. 

You are now breathing in and out. 

Sometimes I wonder if our rhythms of worship and justice as followers of Jesus have become like this 'hold your breath in the tunnel' game.

If we take a big breath, and have big enough lungs, we might just make it through a patch of darkness and then emerge back into the light. We have an incredible conference experience where we are poured into and feel so full of life. Or spend a couple of weeks serving in a community with the poor and pour out our lives, and walk away feeling so alive. And then we return to 'normal life' waiting for the next moment of a big gulp in, or a big breath out. 

It feels like the beautiful rhythm of breathing in and out of worship has turned into these moments of either feeling very breathless, or at any point about to explode because the air hasn't been let out. 

The truth is, we were created to be fully alive; in fact to a life abundant (John 10:10). 

But we all know that you can't sustain big gulps in, or big exhales for very long. We are called to be fully alive all the time, not just in moments. So how can we become disciples that are fully alive, and have a regular rhythm of breath?

Just as we were created to breathe in and breathe out in a sustained and regular rhythm, so to we were created to breathe in the riches of God love, mercy and grace, and breathe out his praise. This is how we breathe in and breathe out worship.

The same is true of our expression of justice. We were always created to breathe in the truth, compassion and presence of the ultimate justice maker, Jesus; and to breathe out the expression of this justice into the world God loves. 

The problem happens when we begin to confuse the in and out. 

Mike Pilavachi sometimes says  'when we worship without justice, we blow up; when we do justice without worship, we dry up'. 

Jim Wallace says 'without a commitment to justice, the search for spirituality can easily become self serving. On the other hand, the battle for justice, without deep roots of spirituality, can quickly lead to burnout, despair, anger and even violence'

It's so easy to think that justice is merely the breathing out of our relationship with God. As though justice is all about US doing something. It's also easy to want to take big gulps of worship in, knowing that the presence of God is transforming us and it's just so amazing we want to stockpile him in our lives through worship encounters. Neither of these are helpful in living lives of worship and justice that are SUSTAINABLE.

I'd like to invite you on a journey through a series of blog posts, where we will explore what it could look like to restore our breathing as disciples of Jesus to the sustainable, regular, intended design of breathing in and breathing out lives of worship and justice. 

It's been said that 'lovers make the best workers' - so let's go on a journey of exploring how as people fully in love with God, we might be transformed into doing His work in all of our lives, all the time. 

Let's see God's kingdom come as we go as radical lovers of Jesus, to create justice in our world everyday. 

Let's breathe in and out, the rhythms of worship and justice in our world

Deb Stanley

Canberra, ACT, Australia

Deb started working with Soul Survivor in 2008 and now lives in Canberra, where she leads Soul Survivor ACT and also looks after the worship teams at soul.conference. Deb finished her degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 2011 and is studying at Morling College.