Putting On Our Oxygen Masks
“In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.” Pre-Flight Safety Announcement on most major airlines
I have found that I can tend to get so excited about ministering to and helping and serving and loving others that I sometimes forget to just slow down and take a deep breath and connect with God for myself. I get so busy focused on others (my family, husband, friends, work/church/school/volunteer stuff) that I forget about what is most important: my own personal connection with God. Getting filled up and equipped and encouraged and refreshed and empowered by God.
Because I cannot give to others what I myself do not have.
I cannot hope to be of much help to others in their personal or relational or spiritual lives if I do not ever let God do His good and purifying and preparing work in my own life. I want to go as far in intimacy with God as possible— not only for my own benefit, but also so that I can help others go as far as possible in their own lives.
So for me: I need to consciously remind myself to stop. And tune in. And listen to what He is saying to me. And receive whatever it is He wants to give me. And be strengthened and encouraged in whatever ways He wants to strengthen and encourage me. And simply notice, thank, and worship Him.
It’s like what the flight attendants always tell you on an airplane: first you need to put on your own oxygen mask so that you can then help your kids or anyone else around you. If you are oxygen-less, you will be no good to everyone else. Likewise, my relationship with God and my willingness to let Him work on me must come first. That way, anything that comes out of me has the opportunity to flow from that.
(Side note: Putting on your oxygen mask— “tuning into Jesus” and clinging to Him— will look different for each of us. For me, it most often looks like me tapping away a prayer on my laptop or scribbling out my desperate thoughts in my journal when He and I have some alone time. It often looks like going on a hike in the hills while listening to a sermon or inspirational teaching of some sort. Every once in a while it looks like me putting on instrumental music and painting with watercolors. My mentor friend is currently in a season wherein tapping into Jesus looks like tiny bursts of prayer and deep breaths throughout her chaotic, busy work day. She feels overwhelmed and under-equipped, yet God keeps assuring her that she is where she is supposed to be and that the quick, sporadic prayers of desperation are keeping her close to Him and that He is, in fact, right there with her, filling her as she moves along. You might tap into Jesus by singing at the top of your lungs while commuting to and from work. Or sitting still in a weekly yoga class and breathing scripture in and out during the final Savasana of your practice. Or going to a worship and prayer night at your church. Or perhaps it’s doodling in the margin of your Bible or doing calligraphy or praying as you fall asleep during your toddler’s nap time. Maybe you tune into Jesus during your bathroom breaks. Whatever it looks like for you— that’s great.)
And just to clarify: I’m not saying you (or I) need to “have it all together” or anything like that! I’m not saying any of us need to be living in a stellar or sinless or “complete” way before we are able to minister to others. For the record: that will never happen. What I am saying is this: Keep close to Jesus. Don’t forget about Him in the midst of the chaos of ministering to others. You need Him. You always will.
You will never “have it all together.” And neither will I. But what we can have is a determination to keep taking our sins, our imperfections, our challenges, our frustrations, our sadness, our gratitude, our exhaustion, our failures, our heartaches and our desperation of all sorts TO HIM.
Let us never forget that.
Alright, friends: Let’s look up. Reach up. And grab the oxygen masks that Jesus is forever offering us. Strap that puppy on and let’s get moving.
Do you ever find yourself so busy doing things for God or others that you end up “too busy” to actually connect with God Himself? How do you reconnect with God most effectively?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.