On Monday, I wrote about running long distances and pushing across the finish line. Well, have you ever watched such runners cross the line? A moment of victory followed by a staggering walk, stopping to lean over with hands on their knees, and a gasping for air.

Why? Oxygen debt. The cumulative deficit of oxygen resulting from intense exercise.
 
Every cell of the body demands oxygen for survival. And when deprived? The body goes into shock. Muscles scream and cramp as lactic acid builds up. The only solution? Extra oxygen intake through deep breathing and rest.
 
What’s that got to do with life? Well, I’ve just started reading a book call
ed Breathing Grace by Harry Kraus, M.D.. Dr. Kraus is a surgeon who compares grace to oxygen. Consider his subtitle: What you need more than your next breath.
 
That’s right. We need a constant supply of God’s grace as much as we need oxygen. And when we turn to other sources instead of grace, our souls begin to experience what he calls gospel debt.
 
Like the medical field, we can diagnose our gospel debt by asking the tough questions. Am I restless? Am I critical of myself or others? Am I irritated by the needs of others? Am I consumed by outward appearances? Can I do good things without needing to get the credit? Am I indifferent to my sin or justify it? Has political correctness taken priority over obedience? Do I make excuses?
 
We can also check our vital signs regularly and look for the trends. Because we all have our moments of need. The real question is whether we are living grace-deprived. And if so, what can we do about it.
 
(Don’t worry. We’ll take at look at Dr. Kraus’ ABC’s of Resuscitation next week.)
 
What about you? Do you suffer from any of these symptoms? Is it a chronic (long-term) or acute (sudden onset) condition? What treatment do you think the doctor will order?
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