Airline Oxygen: Taking One for Yourself

Most of us don’t pay attention to the stewardess giving instructions prior to take-off on an airplane flight – if we’ve traveled a lot. We’ve heard it all so often that we think we’ve nothing else to learn.

A few weeks ago, Dave and I did a lot of flying to visit two of our sons in the western states. During that time, we flew thousands of miles – taking off and landing five different times in four different states.

Each time, instructions were given on what to do in the event of an emergency. Each time, the instructions were coupled with demonstrations of how to follow the instructions. I rarely listen closely because it makes me nervous, and I figure Dave will tell me what to do if anything happens.

In the event of loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will be released from a compartment above. In that event, we are told, you take care of yourself first and then help children or elderly people around you. Selfish as it may seem, it makes sense. It’s not selfish.

We need oxygen to breathe and to live. Lack of oxygen causes confusion, memory loss, and shortness of breath. I can’t help someone else if I’m deficient myself. I can’t help someone find the way if I’m confused myself. I certainly can’t pick someone up and carry him if I’m gasping for air.

That’s why I need to take care of myself first – so that I can help others. It seems backward, but it isn’t.

Jesus spent time alone – so that He could give to others. After healing people and preaching and teaching, He had to get away – so He could find restoration and refreshment. He even told His disciples after one long day,  “Come yourselves apart – and rest awhile.”  Scripture says that they were so busy they hardly had time to eat.

When you think you don’t have time to take care of yourself, remember that. If you’re a mom of little ones or a caregiver of elders, remember that.  If you teach kids or adults in church or assist your spouse in ministry, remember that. You can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself first.That’s not just taking care of yourself physically, but also spiritually.

It’s a lesson we all need to learn – and re-learn over and over again.

When that oxygen mask drops down in front of you, put it on your face first and then turn around and help someone else. It’s the only way to do ministry – whether it’s in your home, your community, your family, or your church. [It’s too bad we don’t have a visual signal like a mask dropping in front of our faces to remind us that we are depleted spiritually, isn’t it?]

Our time with God is the most important time of our day – and it’s so easy to let it slip away. Oh, how well I know. I’ve also experienced the sustenance that comes from taking that time, each day with Jesus. Reading His Word, then listening to Him speak to me from those words – that’s where I find my strength.  You can your strength there, too.

When the cabin pressure decreases, you can endure if you’ve spent time taking care of yourself first. When you hit unexpected turbulence, you will be prepared if you’re continually taking care of yourself by taking time with Jesus. When you encounter unexpected turbulence in your day and your plane has to take a sudden descent, you can be confident because you’re equipped and prepared.

Remember the lessons from the airlines: take care of yourself first, and you’ll be able to take care of others. Remember the lesson from Jesus, Who modeled that Himself. He calls us all to “come apart – and rest awhile.”

When was the last time you took the time to come apart and rest . . . awhile?




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