Coming up For Air

This morning I sit across from John at Starbucks early.  I keep hearing deep sighs as he sips his skim white mocha.  There’s a mixture of snow and rain coming down outside.  The fire is on in the fireplace, which is the reason for my sighs, but not his.

We just returned from several days of meetings in one setting and he is heading into a long day of meetings in another.  New place, new set of challenges.  He’s trying to ignore the clamoring emails and choose the daily disciplines of devotions and journalling.  It’s a struggle because… there’s

I’m privileged to have a lot of close friends who are world class leaders.  They are humble but brave.  They are wise and trust God for great things.  They are kingdom bringers.  And somedays they make mistakes, and most days they’re praying like crazy for discernment, and many days they are under a tremendous amount of pressure.  Lately it seems even more stressful than usual.  And they’re facing a lot of situations that feel “between a rock and a hard place-ish”.

“World class leader” may not describe you or me, but we all get into seasons when we’re in over out head.  Whether you’re a student or a CEO or a mom or you just feel like you’ve been holding your breath for too long, I want to stand up and shout


What seems to happen when we go and go and go under a lot of pressure is the same thing that happens to deep sea divers.  It’s a condition called narcosis. I looked it up on Wikipedia (so you know it must be true 🙂

Narcosis while diving, is a reversible alteration in consciousness that occurs while diving at depth. It is caused by the anesthetic effect of certain gases at high pressure. The Greek word ναρκωσις(narcosis) is derived from narke, “temporary decline or loss of senses and movement, numbness.”   

Narcosis may be completely reversed by ascending to a shallower depth. Thus narcosis while diving in open water rarely develops into a serious problem as long as the divers are aware of its symptoms, and are able to ascend to manage it.  

When we do too much “deep diving” we lose perspective.

We get sloppy in our decision-making.

We lack the time to process, and most importantly, the silence and solitude to listen for what might be God’s voice interpreting our circumstances.

It’s so hard to stop when people are waiting on you for decisions that seem crucial and there are 25 spinning plates that might crash and you might disappoint someone.

But this is about surviving and thriving and living a story that honors a God who can keep the plates spinning without you.

One of my favorite equations from our friend Mark Batterson is

Change of PACE + change of PLACE = Change of PERSPECTIVE.

 So, I can’t declare a world wide breathe day, but you can choose it if you’re really brave.

Can we do this together? Take out your calendar right now and set a date to resurface and breathe deep gulps of God’s goodness.  It’s different than a Sabbath and more than a “mental health day”.


It might be a morning or a whole day, or even two hours over lunch when you totally unplug.

It might be spent at a retreat center, or a coffee shop.

It might include some time evaluating the priorities on your calendar or journaling.

It might be some time spent alone, and some time with a spouse or a friend, reflecting on the important movement of God in your life.

It might include a commitment to reflect on a chapter or a book of the Bible (Consider 1 Kings 17, 18, and 19 or the book of Nehemiah).

It might even include a nap. (John Ortberg says sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is to take a nap.)

I’ll go first because the thing I think has suffered most with my “under water-ness” is the quality of this blog.  I also know this is really hard (and I know many of you are in really inflexible seasons!).  I’m going to choose this Saturday to come up for air. What about you?

What will you NOT DO in order TO DO the vital breathing you need?

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