by: Staci Stallings
If you have ever flown in a commercial plane, you know this (if you paid attention!).
In the unlikely event that the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Simply grasp the plastic mask (which I’m thinking might be more of a challenge than they make it out to be), pull it gently to get the air flowing and then place it over your nose and mouth and breathe normally (yeah, right!). However, in event that you happen to be traveling with a small child or other person who cannot manage to get their mask on themselves, please put your mask on first and then help them with theirs.
Why do you get your mask on FIRST and then help them with theirs? Are they less important than you? Isn’t that selfish?
Actually no. There is a reason they tell you to put your mask on first, and I’m betting you even know why. It’s because if putting the other person’s mask on goes wrong, you will run out of oxygen and be no help to either of you!
So why don’t we take this advice when we help others?
I was talking with a beautiful friend of mine the other day. We were talking about how we are called to help each other and how we really can’t help much if we’re not already connected to God. We just end up flailing around and maybe even making the situation worse.
I told her, “It’s like the oxygen masks on the airplane. YOU’VE got to get connected first. Only THEN can you help others.”
Think about it. If oxygen is the life source (i.e. the symbol for God), then there must be a connection established from you to Him. Until that is established, you really aren’t much good to anyone. Oh, you can try, but often what happens is you give and give and give of yourself, and you run out. Just like you would run out of oxygen if you were helping everyone else on the plane get their masks on without first securing yours.
And sadly, I think that’s a very accurate picture of what happens to a lot of Christians. In their good intentions to help others and thinking that’s what you’re supposed to do as a Christian, they go out, and they work and help and do and give until the bucket is dry. Then someone calls and needs something else. At the point either the person quits OR they do it but resent it.
However, you cannot do this very long and the whole system will simply collapse. A system (person) can NOT over-give out of nothing for very long. It just won’t work.
So, as my friend and I discussed, you HAVE to get your mask on first. THEN you can reach out and help other people.
That means if your “house” is not in order, get connected and let God get it right first. That means spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, physically.
Get connected with Him. Then reach out and help others. When you do that, you CAN help others because you are helping them out of your overflow, not out of your deficit.
How do you secure your God Oxygen Mask, how do you establish real faith, you may ask?
Reading the Bible. Get a Bible study if you aren’t ready to jump into reading the Bible. Work on one piece. Then get another.
Prayer. Oh, this is a big one. Just talk to God. Make it a habit to go to Him in the good times and bad. Talk to Him as you would a friend, ask Him for the answers, He will show you.
Music. Listen to KLOVE if you have it. Get some Christian music on iTunes. Start with Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, and Matthew West. Get a couple songs and bring them with you.
Talking with Holy Spirit friends. Two of mine and I spent 2 whole days together last weekend, talking, laughing, crying, playing music. It was so healing for the soul.
Go to a retreat. Find one in your area and go. Spend some time with God. Amazing things can happen when you do.
If you don’t have time for a full retreat, schedule 15 minutes at a time of day that makes sense for you. Everyone is different. Maybe you’re a night person. Great. Do it at night. Maybe there’s time in the afternoon while baby is asleep. Use it to sit and connect.
Go to church. Never underestimate what being with other believers can do. Yes, I know. Church is not perfect. Let’s face it, we live on earth–nothing here is perfect. However, it can be so helpful with connecting if you make this a habit.
Join a Bible study group. This has helped countless friends of mine, and it might be the connection point you need.
Go for a walk and breathe. It’s amazing how just doing that can calm you and let you see a glimpse of God.
Whatever you choose, DO SOMETHING! Connect. Focus on connecting. You might not do it “right” at first, that’s okay. If it’s not a fit, try something else. It might take a bit of effort to get that oxygen mask on. But when you do, then you will be able to truly help others.
I was immediately drawn into Ben’s story. Staci brought out all the feelings one feels when faced with such an emotional tragedy. It caused me to think about my own experiences, and how I could improve as a person showing God’s love to someone going through such a trial. My heart was touched by this story.
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