Most of us have been through it before. It is the same old routine every time and we experience the same old antsiness as we sit awaiting the very reason we are there in the first place — takeoff. By this time we have endured the less than pleasurable security lines, perhaps border control, and the waiting game that is air travel. We’ve packed into the aluminum tube, stowed away our baggage, and, depending on how you feel about flying, may be saying some passionately bold prayers!
Then the first sign of hope emerges — the in-flight safety instructions are beginning and it’s time to get wrapped up in the last few moments of your LTE/3G availability before the massive tin can whisks you away to the place your mind is likely already inhabiting.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we request your full attent… tighten by pulling on the loose end of th… as we may experience turbulence. There are several emergency… floor-level lighting will guide you towards the exit. Doors can be opened by… which may also be detached and used as a life raft. Oxygen and the air pressure are always… an oxygen mask will automatica… place it firmly over your nose and mouth. Before assisting your fellow passenger, first place your own mask securely… at this time portable electronic devices…”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s take off! I’ve heard it all before. I get it… but do I really? What happens when the plane really does fly into a snag? What happens when an emergency does actually happen? Where will I run when the plane does crash land? How will I respond to the pressure change and oxygen deprivation?
What will I do?
Fortunately, and I praise the Lord for this, I have never been involved in an air-related emergency. Although, I did start writing out a napkin version of my final will and testament a few years ago on the wildest and windiest approach to NYC I’ve ever experienced. I’m still here so it wasn’t necessary — plus there wasn’t much to be distributed anyway.
Unfortunately, for some time now, I have been on a turbulent flight of the soul. In the midst of the everyday trials, conflicts, and challenges of life I have forgotten to adhere to the in-flight safety instructions. The cabin depressurized and the oxygen started to thin out. Yet instead of applying the mask swaying back and forth before me, I made the gravest error possible — I gave in to the distractions of the world.
I got caught up in using up as much data as possible before having to hit airplane mode. I got caught up in the pride of believing I had the instructions down pat. I got caught up in the destination and forgot about the present moment. And perhaps worst of all, I got caught up in running around trying to place oxygen masks on everyone around me instead of embracing my own oxygen flow.
Without a mask of my own, I gradually succumbed to the effects of oxygen deprivation. Slowly, but surely, my ability to think clearly vanished. I began to see reality with a distorted and blurry view. And I began to lose consciousness. In my attempt to “save” others, I ultimately suffocated myself. It’s not that my passions and pursuits were at all bad, but even though I was meaning well, it wasn’t what I was instructed to do.
I feel this is something we all can often get caught up in. We can get so distracted and worried by what’s happening around us that we forget to worry about what’s happening within us. I feel we can get so familiar with the “instructions” that we allow our souls to fly on auto-pilot when they were never equipped with such technology. It’s not that we don’t mean well and it’s not that what we are attempting in life is wrong, but our concern with others leaves us breathless.
Sometimes we need to pass out to finally allow God to place a mask on our faces for us and sometimes we have to get to the end of our oxygen supply in order to reach out in desperation for His lifeline. I have Good News, though. The mask is swaying before you. No matter what stage you’re in, no matter how deprived you are, and no matter how far gone it feels, the mask is right in front of you and His infinite supply of life-giving oxygen is flowing through it.
Grab Him. Embrace Him. Breathe Him in.