I was jogging a few weeks ago when I started to think about the oxygen masks that pop down from above people’s heads in emergencies on planes. In particular, I started wondering whether parents follow the rules regarding the masks. Almost all of us are familiar with the directive given by flight attendants: “In the event of a change in cabin pressure…secure your own mask first, and then help your children.” By God’s grace, I have never had to use the masks on an airplane flight, but I would guess that most parents would go to any lengths possible to ensure their kids’ safety if an emergency occurred. In other words, kids’ masks go on first, and the parents attend to themselves later.
This probably seems like an odd thing to think about. However, it painted a vivid picture in my mind about how I seek to love my family. As a mom, I often attend to the various needs of my family (especially my children) first, and then seek to address my own needs later. This, to my shame, can result in neglecting my spiritual needs. While I feel like I am showing love to my family by sacrificing my own needs to meet theirs, what I am really demonstrating is a lack of wisdom. Sacrificing time spent in private Bible study, prayer, and meditation in the name of serving my family is like starving myself of oxygen in the name of loving my family and assuming I can still function effectively.
By refusing to make my spiritual nourishment a priority, I am becoming weaker and will have less to give to them. Most importantly, neglecting spiritual disciplines in the name of serving the needs of my family demonstrates a lack of love for Christ. He is our salvation and the source of all the strength we have. Love is a fruit of the Spirit that resides within us, and when we strive to spend time in study and prayer, God, our source of life, will give us the refreshment and energy we need to serve our families. He will sustain us so we can meet their physical needs. He will teach us and humble us that we might lovingly serve our spouses and children and shine as a Gospel light in our households.
This is a difficult thing for me to practice. Too often, in order to attend to far less important matters, I push off study and private prayer until later in the day, which sometimes means it doesn’t happen. It can be easier for me to serve my yelling children before spending time with my Savior. I need to realize that taking time for private devotion is one of the greatest ways in which I can love my family. I will feel awful if my kids grow up knowing I loved them dearly but not being certain of my love for Christ because, too often, I pushed time with Him aside for them. May that never be!
Father, please forgive me for not prioritizing time with you as I should. Please help me to show love to my family by taking time to commune with you, to receive grace and to be refreshed. My family is a gift You have given me, and I need You to help me to love them as I ought. Please help my love for You to always supersede my love for anything else.
This guest post is from CASM member Sara Lack, wife of Pastor Andy Lack. They have two sons: Stephen and John.