I fly frequently and must admit I have heard the flight attendant instructions so many times, I don’t always pay attention. But on a recent flight, I remember focusing on these instructions.

“Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.”

Secure your mask first … the first instinct is to help someone else, to assist someone more vulnerable than you. Yet the instructions tell us to secure our mask first — so that we can breathe and be able to help others breathe. It is not selfish. It is not optional. It is necessary. It reminded me of how often we are so focused on working and giving air and life to others that we are losing our own breath.

We do the work, but do we remember to work on rest?

Rest is productive and necessary. The lie is the belief is that when we rest we aren’t doing anything, We carry our busyness as a badge of honor: the more exhausted we are, the better. Yet we carry multiple chargers to make sure our phone is charged. We make regular stops to refuel our cars and purchase food to eat. What if we see rest as restoration? Do we see rest as biblical?

God set the standard for rest.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”  Genesis 2: 2-3

Jesus invites us to rest

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30

At this point you may be thinking, “Rev. Sheila, this is all nice and all. But, I’m too busy and got too many responsibilities.”

Jesus was the Son of God and had the responsibility of teaching, preaching, healing, handling 12 disciples with multiple personalities, dealing with religious leaders, traveling, guiding, praying and being Savior of the world. I think he knows about having a long to-do list,  yet he took time to rest.

Jesus modeled rest

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”  Matthew 14:23

Jesus knew he had to secure his oxygen mask before the decompression. He knew the importance and restorative power of rest. He knew he would need it for the assignment ahead of him.

Delegation empowers you to empower others

“The next day Moses sat as usual to hear the people’s complaints against each other, from morning to evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw how much time this was taking, he said, ‘Why are you trying to do all this alone, with people standing here all day long to get your help?’ ‘Well, because the people come to me with their disputes, to ask for God’s decisions,’ Moses told him.’ I am their judge, deciding who is right and who is wrong, and instructing them in God’s ways. I apply the laws of God to their particular disputes.’ ‘It’s not right!’ his father-in-law exclaimed. ‘You’re going to wear yourself out — and if you do, what will happen to the people? Moses, this job is too heavy a burden for you to try to handle all by yourself. Now listen, and let me give you a word of advice, and God will bless you: Be these people’s lawyer — their representative before God — bringing him their questions to decide; you will tell them his decisions, teaching them God’s laws, and showing them the principles of godly living. Find some capable, godly, honest men who hate bribes, and appoint them as judges.’” Exodus 18:13 -20

When we neglect self-care, it affects the people we are called to care for.  Sometimes God will bring people into our lives to remind us to slow down.  Pray that God brings a Jethro into your life. Someone who is close enough to speak the truth in love to you.

Self-care steps

• Make yourself a priority — “We get so caught up in trying to do things for God that we forget that that all God wants is for us to spend time together. What good is service to God if we have lost the Lord in our purpose for serving? ” Kirk Byron Jones

• Small steps — give yourself five minute breaks and meditate on rest scriptures. 

• Accountability partners — pray for God to send you a Jethro — friends who will speak the truth to you in love

• Pray for faithful people to delegate (Exodus 18:13-20) (Acts 6:1-4)

Lord, lift me up for your blessings today. I pray that you will anoint me with strength and self care today, tomorrow, and always. I pray that you will grace me with patience and wisdom. I pray that you will encourage me throughout the day with reminders to take moments to care for myself.  Self-care is not a luxury; it is essential. It is not unselfish to fill my cup before pouring into someone else. I cannot pour from an empty vessel. I pray all of these things in your name. Amen.

Blessed to be a blessing to you,

Rev. Sheila P. Spencer

Minister Sheila P. Spencer is an author, educator, poet and speaker. She can be contacted at CustomMadeInspiration@gmail.com, and her website is sheilapspencer.com.

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