emergency instructions card

Settling into my seat on a recent flight, my mind excitedly raced ahead. It seemed like I had just planned this trip that felt so far away and off in the distance. Yet, the months of waiting quickly melted away.  Now just a short flight stood between me and this much anticipated trip. My thoughts had already soared half way to North Carolina when the flight attendant’s voice abruptly interrupted me, beckoning me back to our full flight still awaiting take off.  “Please give your full attention to the flight attendants in the aisles…” she began.

As I listened, I glanced out of my window, my eyes settled on a jet near us on the runway. My mind flashed to a recent news story of a plane that crashed upon landing…definitely not a comforting thought just prior to take off! I remembered hearing the astonished reporters who marveled that there were no fatalities or even serious injuries despite the nature of the accident. When interviewing the crew, the consistent message celebrated the crew and passengers alike stating that because their immediate response with the appropriate actions, everyone got out safely. In their moment of crisis, there was no time to consult the infamous card tucked in the seat-back pocket.  They needed to already know what to do to improve their chance of survival. Instantly, my eyes focused back to the flight attendant in the aisle near me. I suddenly felt the need to give her my undivided attention with greater sincerity.

Isn’t it so easy to tune out instructions when you’ve already heard them?  You already know that your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device in the unlikely event of a water landing.  Do you need to hear it again? But what if hearing all of the instructions, really hearing them this time could save your life or prevent injury? Wouldn’t you listen differently?

Sitting on the runway, I thought how poignant that example. In everyday life we have the same opportunity. God provides His instructions and wisdom for life in the Bible. Too often our minds race ahead to our own priorities before stopping to listen to His wisdom. Over the course of our entire day, too often we don’t find a single free minute to read His instructions. Instead our Bible might sit on a bedside table, on a shelf, or in a drawer unopened for another day. On a Sunday morning we might be tempted to not really listen fully to the sermon because we’ve heard this one before. What if the instructions we miss today are the very ones that could guide us through whatever situation or crisis lies ahead?  In the crisis moment, we might not have time to look up what to do but need to rely upon what we already know.

So what can you do to be prepared? Life doesn’t come equip with an emergency card and an attendant won’t show up next to you to provide direction. Here are five tips to equip you for life’s little or big emergencies:

1. Memorize scripture. What better way to have God’s instruction with you when you need it most but to have it in you heart and mind already? Psalm 7 says “store up my commands within you…write them on the tablet of your heart.” There are great examples of how to respond in situations such as Romans 9:9-18 or strength to be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

2. Read the Bible. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before. But it works! Don’t make it complicated but find something that works for you. Maybe it’s a daily app on your smart phone, a printed devotional, or an email subscription. Find a way to read scripture regularly.

3. Take notes. Many people take notes when they attend a seminar. They want to absorb all that the speaker has for them. Why not approach inspirational messages, sermons, or faith-based podcasts the same way? Allow God to speak to you and instruct your heart.  Take notes and then commit to revisiting your notes. Think of it as writing your own emergency instruction card.

4. Make a list and check it twice. Jot down scriptures or Godly wisdom that you encounter when it speaks to you. By doing so, you’ll have a quick reference that is easy to find when you need it most.

5. Use online Bible resources. When you remember a partial verse that you like, but you can’t quite remember it in its entirety, take time to look it up online and then make note of the full verse. If you type what you remember in to a search engine like Google or Bing, or a few keywords into BibleGateway, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to find verses that were “misplaced” for you.

Where ever you are today, if you are looking ahead to the day with great anticipation or if you are in a season that feels far more like worry than celebration, know that you can fall back on the trusted reliable instructions for life that God provides in the Bible. Resist the urge to say I’ve heard this one before. Listen with new ears to the message He has for you. Take steps to plant His word in your heart equipping you for the challenges that will lie ahead. And, trust with assurance that when life crashes around you, there may not be aisle lighting to illuminate your exit however His word will be a lamp onto your feet and a light onto your path.

I’d love to hear from you…Which of the 5 tips do you use already? How have you found it helpful? And, which one (or more) are you going to implement?