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Dave Brisbin

Breath and Freedom

Who says there’s no humor in the bible?

When Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again to see Kingdom, picture the scene: Nicodemus, face in a knot, thinking out loud—how can an old man crawl back into his mother’s womb? I know it’s not LOL funny to our ears, but worth a smile. Jesus offers living water to a Samaritan woman at a well with her pitcher: Give me this water so I don’t have to lug this pitcher back and forth every day. Archaeologists believe that well was over half a mile from her village. Humorous and practical at the same time.

That both of these vastly different people—a rich, educated, powerful Jewish man and a poor, Samaritan woman with five ex-husbands and a live-in boyfriend—could completely miss Jesus’ meaning highlights the depth of their disconnection. Jesus pulls out the exact metaphor each needs in that moment to break them free. For the old man to become as newborn with the mind of a beginner. For the woman to be freed of the bondage imposed by life, culture, and codependence.

All Jesus’ metaphors point to one elusive truth.

That salvation and Kingdom are the same: a quality of connection and presence. And the only Way to that connection: to be blown with the wind of God’s spirit in the trust of a child without self-awareness, the submission of a servant without resentment. Living water, maya hayye in Aramaic, an idiom that means running water as from a spring, fountain, stream. Water that’s safe to drink. Always in motion, clean, clear, never stagnant. The key is motion. Life is motion. Spirit is motion. Why do you seek the living among the dead? They are not moving. The only way we can know God, Kingdom, salvation is to be in sympathetic motion with God’s life.

And the only way to move with God is to drop the nets of security, sell everything of accomplishment, deflate ego and knowledge back to beginners’ mind, “sin no more,” as in break through the shame that keeps us separated from a truth that will make us free. That truth—we are breathing a love that can’t be lost—is the beginning and ending of a journey only negotiated in vulnerability. Are we ready yet? Willing?


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  • Laury Browning

    “All Jesus’ metaphors point to one elusive truth.

    That salvation and Kingdom are the same: a quality of connection and presence.”

    February 22, 2023

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