Spring 2021/Steve Demme

When I travel, I prefer to fly on Southwest Airlines. One of the reasons is that the crew has a sense of humor. On one flight, the person giving the instructions about how to buckle, where to locate the exit rows, that there should be no smoking in the bathrooms, etc., was explaining what to do when there was a loss of cabin pressure and the oxygen masks fall from the overhead compartment. He said, “When the yellow margarine containers fall from the overhead compartment, first place the mask on yourself and then help your children.”

His description caught my attention, and I have thought about the serious message conveyed by that picture many times. Our first reaction as a parent would be to make sure our children had access to the flow of oxygen. It is counterintuitive to put on our own mask first. But there is wisdom in what they tell us. For if the parents are not able to breathe, they will not be able to help their children.

The best thing I can do as a husband and father is invest time each morning putting the yellow margarine container over my face. This may include reading a few chapters of the Bible or being still, waiting on God, or praying for my family. As I breathe the divine air from above, I am properly equipped to help my family.

As I seek God and am refreshed, refilled, and refueled in His presence, I am divinely enabled to be a source of life and comfort to those who are nearest and dearest to me. My first responsibility as a follower of Jesus is to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. My primary calling as a parent is to love my wife and sons as God has loved me. Both of these commands are spiritual in nature and flow from my relationship with God.

For decades, I have made a habit of reading Scripture daily, including reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation each year. I find my heart is softened as I am exposed to the inspired passages. The words of life found in the Word are true heart food. I have also seen my faith be increased since “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).

There are many other reasons for reading the Word daily. After decades of loving the truth, I believe that God has been calling me to not only invest in reading and studying eternal truth but to give equal time to developing my relationship with Him, the living God. “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-34)

These words “spirit and truth” have been resonating in my heart for weeks now. Each day, my new habit begins with time in the Word as I have been doing for years. I am now following this quiet time by a walk. I find when I am sitting in my comfy chair early in the morning, I am prone to drowsiness and distraction. When I walk (also a good source of exercise) I am able to focus my attention on communicating with God in my spirit and through His Spirit, for the Spirit is as essential as the truth.

Believing that God is delighted when I draw near to Him makes it easier for me to approach Him. I used to have a serious problem waiting on God because I had not comprehended His grace or how much He truly cared for me. Now I am more convinced than ever that He not only loves me but genuinely likes me. He is my Dad. He knows me intimately and yet still affectionately desires my presence. I know this from the source of truth, the Holy Scripture, that says “God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9)

My heart and spirit are encouraged while daily communing with the living God for “the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Sometimes I talk; other times I listen. This past week as I prayed, I focused on the admonition found several times in Revelation, “He that hath an ear, let him hear….” (Revelation 2:11) God faithfully meets me as I seek Him. I am deepening my relationship with God and growing in spirit and truth.

I still smile when I fly and am told to use the yellow margarine container on myself first. As I have applied this principle, I find myself in a better state of being with God and my wife. Since every good and perfect gift comes from above, I am discovering new life, new hope, and fresh grace each day, to love God and my family.

May God bless us each as we breathe in new life from God “drawing water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)

Steve and Sandra Demme have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and two special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Down syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve has served in full or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families, www.buildingfaithfamilies.org.