“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
As we were pulling away from the gate at our terminal, the flight attendants were going through their spiel on flight rules and directions on how to buckle seat belts, find exits, and use your life jackets and seat cushions in case of an emergency. If you've ever flown, you are familiar with such goings on, too.
One particular sentence has stuck with me throughout this week in Alaska from the passenger safety information. Nothing that I have not heard before, but something that has been impressed upon my heart in a different light.
Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
Short and sweet, precise information...but profound. You are no help to anyone around you unless you're alive to help them. Get your own oxygen in place so you are able and prepared to help others. As a mom, if I were flying with my boys, I know that it would be hard to think of myself first. I would be worried about them and their ability to act quickly enough. However, I can only truly help them if I am breathing myself.
Because I was on a flight heading for my connection in LA that would eventually land me in Anchorage, AK, where I would be in ministry for 3 weeks, those words took on a new meaning.
Securing my own mask in ministry is not about oxygen. It is about reading God's Word daily, spending time in prayer each day with the One who has the power to give eternal life, and becoming more like Him in my daily walk. Before I can be an effective missionary, I have to have my own source of life giving "oxygen" from my Heavenly Father flowing.
It is an easy thing to become so busy and caught up in the serving part of mission work, that our quiet time is left for that moment of the day that may never come on its own. I have to stop and make the time. My witness depends upon it. My strength and energy will fade...God's never does.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13So, as I sat there over the next several hours of two flights to Alaska, God spoke to my heart as I pondered over these thoughts. His forgiveness washed over me for when I have failed to remain with my mask secured as soon as I asked for it. I felt refreshed and alive in His presence. I felt better prepared to walk from the plane into the land I was commissioned to go with a new energy and spirit.
This first week there were times when I was distracted and failed. But, even after an epic fail, God has restored and reconciled my wayward self to Himself again. In His mercy and grace, I face another week of ministry with excitement and anticipation of what He's going to do next.
Over 30 people came to know Jesus as their Savior this past week. In spite of using imperfect people such as myself, God has done glorious things to further His Kingdom.
God is that good.
The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. Deuteronomy 6:24