On my return flight from Colorado this past holiday season, I listened to the familiar emergency survival instructions as the plane taxied out to the runway.
If the cabin lost pressure, the stewardess said, an oxygen mask would release from the overhead compartment directly above each passenger. Using a demonstration mask, she showed us how to slip the elastic band over the back of our heads, secure the mask over nose and mouth, and breathe normally.
Then she cautioned that in the event of such an emergency, we were to put on our own masks before we tried to help the person seated next to us – even if that person was a child.
At first, this seemed like a harsh statement, but it soon made sense. How could I help anyone else if I were about to lose consciousness myself?
This practical, life-saving advice applies to other areas of our lives, as well, yet too often we fail to consider its logic. Instead, we offer advice to our friends in difficult situations when we don’t have a solid grip on our own challenges. We try to give them answers, when we’re not even certain of the questions.
It all comes down to preparation. Are we prepared? Are we grounded in the Word of God? Do we know where our lifeline is – our emotional and spiritual oxygen mask – in case of depressurization?
Sadly, many of us don’t. We don’t spend time every day reading the promises and assurances of God. We don’t fill ourselves with the confidence of His faithfulness. Therefore, when the air gets thin, we start to panic. What good will we be to anyone else in that condition, much less to ourselves?
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 19:19). Do you really love yourself in the way God wants you to, or do you ignore His grace and belittle yourself for not measuring up? Do you love yourself enough to get the spiritual nourishment you need?
Start today by opening God’s word and taking a deep breath of His life-giving wisdom. Be prepared so you’ll be able to help others near you who may be gasping for air.