I noticed the sign long before anyone else in the family did. We were sitting in the food court of the holiday town's Shopping Mall enjoying our lunch, when the soft pastel colors of the fluttering banner caught my eye.
As I read the words, a smile sneaked onto my face.
"I wonder how they knew?" I chuckled to myself.
It wasn't until we were heading back to the car that Kylie pointed to one of the pretty banners and said, "Look Mum! They know you're here!"
All throughout the complex there were banners cheerfully proclaiming:
Arriving back in the car park we noticed that another of the signs was posted on the wall directly in front of our car. That was when we both really laughed, while Steve and Matthew looked at us as though we'd gone quite mad.
Of course the signs were promoting the relatively new shopping centre, but those words had a much deeper significance for me.
After years of knowing that God had a ministry for me that involved sharing His Word through teaching and song, it wasn't until my birthday in January, 2000, that the pieces began to fall into place. For the first time there was a clarity to the vision and the skeleton of the dream started to be fleshed out.
The call was out to freely share God's love, grace and encouragement to Christian women and men in small churches throughout the world; stirring them to believe in, and rise up to, their God-given potential and destiny.
I still remember praying in Church one Sunday morning not long after this revelation and asking God to give me the name for this ministry. Some vague ideas floated through my mind, but it wasn't until February that He gave me the perfect name - "Breath of Fresh Air".
The truth is that although this was something I'd been called by several people, the title wasn't actually about me. Even though Kylie and I enjoyed seeing those signs and laughing about this "proclamation" of my arrival in town, the reality is that the ultimate breath of fresh air was, is and always will be, Jesus Christ.
When our Lord and Saviour arrived on the scene 2,000 years ago, He was most definitely a breeze straight from heaven. Blowing away the cobwebs of dead religion and turning the world upside down, He brought life and hope where previously there was only death and hopelessness. He brought grace and freedom to replace legalism and bondage. Most importantly, He showed us the Father and His unconditional love.
Each one of us is called to pick up Christ's banner and be a breath of fresh air to the world around us - to breathe God's love, life and grace into everyone we meet.
When there's a need for encouragement, we must encourage. When there's a need for refreshment, we must refresh. When there's a need to be strengthened, then we must provide strength. When there's a need for correction, we must be willing to go against the flow and correct. But everything we do must begin and end with love, grace and compassion.
Just before we headed to Port Macquarie for our vacation, Steve and I were able to attend a few days of the annual Hillsong Conference. On the trip there one morning, we found ourselves caught in a commuter traffic jam caused by traffic lights that were changing too quickly to maintain a smooth flow of vehicles.
As we inched slowly to the corner, we noticed a stream of vehicles banked back in a side street trying to make their way onto the main road. Very few cars were letting the other drivers into the line, but we chose to do the right thing and gave way.
A worn-out, old, pick-up truck slipped into the line in front of us, and our mood of benevolent generosity quickly evaporated as we were enveloped in a cloud of noxious smoke.
For the next ten minutes we were held captive by the fumes being belched from the dying vehicle ahead of us. Even winding up our windows and shutting the air vents failed to totally keep the poisonous emissions from seeping into the car.
"This CAN'T be doing us any good!" I wailed, as we sat and prayed for the lights to change quickly.
Finally we made it around the corner and the traffic snarl immediately dissipated. Without a second thought, we accelerated around "Old Stinky" and took our first deep breath of unpolluted air.
Well, unpolluted by comparison to what we'd just been inhaling!
I still remember how good it felt to fill my lungs with air that gives life - not death!
There are countless numbers of people inhaling the noxious fumes of life in this world every second of every day. No matter how hard they try to avoid it, somehow the poison still manages to seep in. Gossip, slander, anger, hatred, violence, discouragement, bitterness and unforgiveness are just some of the "toxins" that bombard them day in and day out.
As Christians we can bring a healing breath of fresh air into their lives, simply by letting Christ's love, grace and compassion flow through us. The wonderful thing is that as we pour these things into the lives of others, God will pour them back into our own. As King Solomon wrote:
Being a breath of fresh air sometimes means going against the flow. Jesus was never one to conform to religious expectations or traditions when they weren't His Father's will. The same is true for us. There will be times when we need to be prepared to speak up against legalism, injustice and corruption.
The desire of my heart is to be a breath of fresh air for Christ everywhere I go. To be able to change the atmosphere of a room simply by walking into it and shining Jesus.
Will you be a breath of fresh air in your world today? If you "breathe" on someone they just might end up "catching" Jesus! After all, a joyful, victorious Christian life is, not surprisingly, very contagious.
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Copyright © 2001-2003 Debbie Porter - Breath of Fresh Air. All rights reserved.