how many times have I heard that instruction? well, every time I’ve been on a plane getting ready for takeoff, I’ve heard that instruction as part of the pre-flight routine that every airline observes. Now when I say I’ve heard this instruction, a more accurate admission would be that it has been given while my mind is busy with other things, such as wondering if I remembered to pack ? or if I remembered to turn off ?. or I’m thinking about whatever or whoever it is that awaits me at my destination. All this preoccupation leaves little chance that I am truly hearing these pre-flight, in case of emergency, instructions.
Nevertheless, the instructions, “put on your own oxygen mask first, before attempting to assist or to care for anyone else around you.” are given before every flight as part of the “what to do in case of an emergency speech.” Why? because without my own oxygen mask on, I would be totally incapacitated, unable to help myself, or anyone else. I would be useless.
This instruction to put on my own oxygen mask first, reminds me of an instruction Jesus gave in Matthew 7:5 when He said, ” You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Good advice for anyone who wants to help someone else. I need to take care of my own mask or my own plank first, before I can be in a position to offer assistance to someone else.
Putting on my oxygen mask first, before doing anything else, makes perfect sense in light of Jesus words in Luke 6:39, ” . . . Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” If I’m not connected to the oxygen source myself, I can’t help anyone else to get connected to the same life saving oxygen source. It just isn’t possible.
Jesus offered other survival instructions as well. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) In each case, something is required of me first, some action I need to take before I can relate rightly to other people.
Jesus gave the ultimate survival instruction when He said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) I am not to sit back and wait to see how others will treat me before I decide my actions towards them. I am to put on my oxygen mask first, then treat them well, minister to them, serve their needs. I can do this because my needs are met as I am already attached to the life giving source of oxygen.
I have heeded the instruction to put on my own oxygen mask first. I am plugged in. I am connected to the source that sustains life. And that makes all the difference.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1,4-5)
sincerely, Grace Day