More years ago than I care to recall, I used to play rugby. Now I’m just an avid armchair fan. Once or twice as a player, I received a blow to my midriff that completely winded me. For a few seconds no air came or went. The reflex action of my lungs was frozen and fear rapidly gripped me as I lay helpless. Of course, the moment passed and all was soon well. But it was a stark reminder of the essential importance of breath.
Breath is referred to over 80 times in the Bible and the same Greek or Hebrew words often describe the wind or Spirit too. It’s a powerful metaphor describing God’s activity: His infilling of us, giving life, propelling us like a sailing ship, moving freely, invisibly and unpredictably…
In the four months my wife and I have been at Ffald y Brenin I have spent many hours pondering God’s purposes for this special place. There are vital clues to be had in founder Phyllida Mould’s book, From Vision to Reality, from the lips of guests, trustees, team members and others, from the plethora of prophetic words that have come in to us and, of course, from the experience of becoming rooted in this location, especially during the lockdown, listening to God.
There are two apparently conflicting threads to what the Spirit of God seems to do through Ffald y Brenin: the first is that of rest, refreshment, restoration, healing and the presence of God. The second is of vision, commission, faith, intercession, revival, blessing and global reach, carrying His presence. As you probably know, Ffald y Brenin is Welsh for “Sheepfold of the King.” Jesus says of Himself, “I am the door; if anyone enters through me they will be saved; they will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
Ffald y Brenin is all about Jesus; we’re invited to come in and go out to find pasture. And returning to the metaphor of breath, there need be no conflict in our purpose here: breathing in to rest and be filled, refreshed, and restored precedes our breathing out as we share in Jesus’ commission to be and to speak Good News to a broken world.
As time goes on we will look to develop this idea, so that those who need rest can breathe deeply, helped by the peace of their surroundings here. But those with their lungs full will also be enabled to find ways to ‘breathe out’. There is a growing sense that God is preparing His people everywhere for a fresh awakening.
A key to our preparation is the realisation that ‘Jesus is all’; this lockdown has brought much of our feverish activity to a halt, we are learning lessons of Sabbath whether we like it or not! When we come to an end of ourselves, God can act. It’s time to breathe in.