God met a man at the pearly gates. The man walked up to him and shrugged.
“So, I gotta say that I wasn’t planning on being up here so soon, but I did do some pretty amazing things on Earth.”
“I’ve seen,” said God. “You paid for three peoples’ coffees one day at Starbucks. You gave your ex-girlfriend you car for a week when she didn’t have one. You volunteered at the homeless shelter three nights a week. You even saved a child’s life when a plane was losing cabin pressure. Still, I’m disappointed.”
“Why?” The man said confused.
“Because you paid for coffee for people when you owed rent money. You gave your ex-girlfriend your car when you didn’t have transportation to work. You volunteered at the shelter but didn’t get the pipes fixed in your house which cause a leak. And you saved the child’s life when the plane lost cabin pressure, but lost your own because you put their oxygen mask on first instead of yours. You said your weren’t expecting to be here? I wasn’t expecting you either.”

 if a plane loses pressure at 40,000 feet, those on board have as little as 18 seconds of “useful consciousness” without supplemental oxygen. Once the euphoria is over, hypoxia renders one unconscious and can cause brain damage or death.

There are a lot of us who live life putting on other peoples’ oxygen masks, but never putting their own on–and they wonder why they feel like they are suffocating. The truth is while God calls us to help the ‘least of these’, ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’, ‘help the widows and the orphans’, and much more– there is never a time when God calls us to neglect ourselves.

Isn’t it funny that “self care” is a thing? I can’t go anywhere without hearing someone say, “I’m like really trying to do more ‘self care’. Like I need more ‘self care’ days. I just need some ‘self care’. (read in an annoying valley girl voice). Pyschcentral says, ‘Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.’

This isn’t a new concept, people. Part of what we are created to do is take care of ourselves. Even God took care of himself after creation. He rested– or as they say , ‘God, took a ‘me day’. ‘

I’m not going to tell you why God wants us taking care of ourselves. I’m going to tell you why God wants us to take care of ourselves–first.

1. Luke 5 :15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Paraphrase- A lot of people heard Jesus could heal and do miracles so there were always people trying to get something from him, but a lot of times, Jesus disappeared to get time for himself and to get refreshed before going back in to ministry.

2. Mathew 7 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  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.

Paraphrase- How in the world are you going to give someone help and guidance when you yourself need help and guidance. Get yourself right with God before you try helping someone else with that.

3. Mark 12:30-31 The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Paraphrase- First, you need to learn how to love God with everything you have. Second, you need love others as you as if you are loving your very self. You know how to do this because of the love in your relationship with God.

4. Mark 6 (I’m gonna walk through this) Jesus send the twelve disciples out and gives them instructions “ Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.  Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.
Paraphrase- go preach, teach, and perform miracles, but if people don’t want to hear the truth, don’t force it on them. Shake it off and move on. This is important for your care.
Later on “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Paraphrase- The disciples came back and told Jesus of everything that happened. Jesus was like, “Cool. Great job. You’ve done a lot. Let’s go get some rest.

So, when I say God wants us to take care of ourselves first, I mean this…We have to make sure we are where we need to be before we can ever effectively help others. And if we aren’t, then there is no shame in saying, “I need to make sure I’m good first. Maybe I can get you to someone else who is able to do what I can’t.” Trust me, if you don’t, you’re going to get yourself into trouble, and you won’t be helping anyone.

Put your oxygen masks on first, friends.

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