Thursday, 13 November 2014

Bated breath

Sometimes I think that we have a funny language - English can be a little confusing for people to learn and especially when we have idiom's like: "With bated breath." Some of you are thinking that it should be "baited", but that is not actually correct, yet most people get it wrong.

According to some sources the original use of this phrase goes back to Mr Shakespeare himself. In The Merchant of Venice, he writes:
 “Shall I bend low and, in a bondman’s key, 
With bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness, 
Say this ...”.

Nearly 3 centuries later, Mark Twain used the same phrase in Tom Sawyer:
“Every eye fixed itself upon him; 
with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, 
taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale”.

We don't use 'bated' in our English language anymore, but it is a shortened version of the word 'abated', meaning to slow down. So, when we speak of 'bated' breath, we are speaking of slowing down our breathing, or catching our breath. This can be used in the context of being extremely nervous or even very excited.

What's my point in all of this? It is surely not to give anyone an English lesson. This is my point:

When last did find ourselves with 'bated breath' in worship? When last did we find ourselves slowing down our breathing, because we realised we were in the presence of the Almighty God? When was the last time you found yourself unable to breathe just because you sensed God was about to do something amazing?

Perhaps our world has successfully put us onto the treadmill and we can't find the "off" button. Our worship and expectation of the Living God have been sidetracked by other gods.

My prayer is that we would come into the presence of God with breath that is willing to abate - willing to slow down because we recognise we are standing on holy ground.

Job 33:4 -  The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Living in Grace


John van de Laar said...

Thanks Delme - I LOVE this!

There is no doubt in my mind that we need more of these "bated breath" God-moments, especially in our worship!

Delme Linscott said...

Pleasure John - keep inspiring us to worship God in deeper ways my friend. D