on writing with my heart (breathe on me, breath of God)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

IMG_7076One of my great challenges as a writer is to remain connected, viscerally, to my work. When something is visceral – simply put – you feel it in your guts. The formulation of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs – the process of writing – all takes place in my head, it is cold and one-dimensional at times. But life has a heartbeat; breath, flesh, bones, and blood running through its veins.

When we breathe, filling our lungs with air, our blood is pumped through a multitude of tiny clusters of microscopic air sacs called alveoli. In the alveoli, oxygen from the air is absorbed into our blood; the blood – re-infused with the oxygen we need to survive – then rushes off to take the oxygen where it needs to be before completing its circuit and returning for more.

WRITING: Our lungs are where this exchange takes place, and – to me – the process is indicative of what happens when I allow the Spirit of God to interface with my work as a writer. The breath of life infuses the words, and I begin to feel them in my guts; they are visceral, and, hopefully, like blood leaving the lungs, what I write carries life with it to where it needs to be.

I’ve never really thought about this before, but words without the Spirit are like blood without oxygen. The challenge of being connected, viscerally, to my work, is about taking in deep breaths of God; not just once in a while (morning devotions, Bible-study groups, and Sundays in church) but actually while I am writing. Words come into this environment and – like blood leaving the lungs after I breathe deeply – they become infused with life.

Taking in a gulp of God and then going about our business, as if the spiritual part is done for the day, is like taking a deep breath in the morning and then living in a vacuum, hoping to make it until our next scheduled breath at – say – lunchtime.

post-Christmas hold-outs
post-Christmas hold-outs

NO SEPARATION: But that’s exactly what it looks like when we act as if we have, A) “My life,” and then, B) “My spiritual life.” As if they are two separate things, and that different standards apply. No, we have our life, period. Our life is our spiritual life. If we only breathe once or twice a day, then our blood has no oxygen to carry to the body and we die. Likewise, if we fail to take in regular breaths of the Spirit of God, then the life-blood of our spirits is similarly compromised.

If I want my writing to stay visceral, and to be a legitimate conduit of life, then I must be inspired in the deeper truth of the word; “inspired” means to be infused with spirit, and I cannot inspire you without constantly breathing in the Spirit of God and allowing that life to bond with my work.

cropped-img_0398.jpgDo I breathe God in, and hold that presence in my inner self before releasing the Spirit of Life back into the world through my work? through my relationships? through my day-in-day-out coming and going?

I pray that – as this year unfolds – my answer will be, increasingly, “Yes.”


Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
and do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until with thee I will one will,
to do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
till I am wholly thine,
till all this earthly part of me
glows with thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with thee the perfect life
of thine eternity.  (Edwin Hatch, 1835-1889)


Live Like You Mean It The Life-Charged Life

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi Derek,

    I really like this: “… we have our life, period. Our life is our spiritual life.” As I recall periods in my life where I tried to separate my life (work, play, social, etc.) from my spiritual life, I remember periods of stress, anguish and lack of peace. Having “one life” is essential to live abundantly. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Having more than one life is serving two (or more) masters, and it just does not work well.

    Peace and Grace!

    Liked by 1 person

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