“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35 NIV
Trains, planes, and automobiles. I love to travel. My favorite way to get somewhere is by plane. It’s so fast; you get from here to there in a fraction of the time it would take to drive the distance. Plus, how great is it to sit back and enjoy the ride? However, if you’ve ever flown you know that traveling by plane does have its drawbacks... delays, crowded airports, small seats and remembering all those safety instructions. Here’s a question...do you REALLY listen to the safety instructions?
The safety instructions go something like: buckle your seat belt, stay seated when the “seat belt light is on,” and, in the unlikely event the cabin loses pressure, “put the mask on yourself first before assisting others.”
Why is it important to put the mask on and breathe in the oxygen before you help your fellow passengers? My first instinct would be to make sure the person I was traveling with was safe before I helped myself. I usually travel with a family member or a close friend, and I want them to be safe before I consider my personal safety. The problem is that if I followed my instinct, instead of following the directions, I put myself and my traveling companions in danger.
I did a little research--and most of you probably know this--if you don’t put the mask on first you will not be able to help others. Within a few seconds, your brain function is interrupted to such an extent that you will not be able to think clearly or you pass out. If lack of oxygen continues long enough, in the worst case, you could die. If you do not breathe in the life-giving oxygen first, you can’t help anyone. Breathing in before you help others is also an excellent safety instruction for our lives.
It’s so easy to focus on what others need and ignore ourselves. We often feel guilty about putting ourselves first. Other times we don’t feel adequate or able to do what needs to be done. That’s why it is important to“put the mask on first.” And by this I mean, it is essential to spend time taking in God’s strength and wisdom and most of all His love. Breathe in the life-giving truth about who you are, a beloved daughter of the One True King. This truth is the only way to silence these untruths.
Jesus knew this. Jesus lived this. He needed time alone with His Father to do the work for which He came to do. In scripture we find Him praying and talking to His Father before setting out to minister to the crowds. He took in the life-giving breath of God before loving and caring for others. For instance, after healing a man from leprosy, the crowds multiplied pressuring Him to heal the sick and lame. The world was closing in. However, Luke says that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (5:16) In the midst of pressing responsibilities and requests, Jesus understood it was necessary to seek God first.
Do you regularly spend time alone with God’? Do you breathe in His strength, wisdom and the reality of His love? Time alone listening and being with God is the oxygen we need to help others.
Make it a habit to carve out time--I like the early morning before my family begins to stir--and spend time in His Word, reading, studying, meditating on how much God loves you. Pray. Tell Him your fears, your needs, your desires. He is listening, and He is able to give you all you need. He is the oxygen. Breathe in.
Father God, thank you for your life-giving breath that sustains us and makes us able to share and care for others. Help us know the importance of time with You so that we will make the time and when we do, give us strength, wisdom and the knowledge of your love.