No matter how careful we plan, catastrophe can strike, and we need to be ready to react when it does.
Have you taken first-aid or learned CPR? I just took it last week, for the fourth time within the last dozen or so years. While I hope I never need to use it, I feel confident right now that I could give aid to someone in need.
The place where I took my first-aid class also offers safety courses for oilfield workers. In those classes, the training focuses on awareness of hazards and how to prevent workplace accidents. The point is to keep you and your coworkers safe.
During my class, I realized that learning first-aid and other safety courses are a lot like living out the Christian faith. If that sounds odd (or if you hate first-aid training, haha!), just hear me out.
The connection between first-aid and faith
Belief in Jesus Christ is not about escaping the world to get to heaven. Faith should infuse every part of our daily lives—the good days for sure, and most definitely the hard ones. So we need to be in the habit of utilizing our faith.
Just like first-aid booklets, the Bible does not directly address every unique situation we may find ourselves in. However, with study, the Bible does give us the necessary tools to make good decisions in every aspect of our life. Yes, it is old. Yes, it takes place in a different culture than our own. Yet, it is based on the truth about humanity and God that transcends time.
And, as a bonus for us, a lot of these teachings are found in memorable stories!
How Bible stories remind me of my first-aid training
What is my favorite part of first-aid? It is when the teacher turns from the PowerPoint and asks the class, “Have you ever encountered something like this?”
It's crazy to me to hear how many people have experienced the need to give or receive first aid. There were personal accounts of burns, stroke, seizures, broken bones, cuts, and choking. After the gross/fascinating stories of what happened, the instructor asks, “So what did you do?”
Most times, people did the right thing, but not always. Either way, there was something to learn from their experience. Do you see where I'm going here?
Four ways studying the Bible is like first-aid training
Studying the Bible is a lot like taking safety courses because in the pages of the Bible we learn:
What we shouldn't do because it is hazardous to ourselves and others
Why that action is dangerous, even though it seems okay at first glance
What to do when things go wrong and we find ourselves or others in danger
Personal stories that show us how these teachings hit the road in our real, everyday lives
You're never done training for first-aid, or for faith
Like I mentioned above, this wasn't my first time taking the course, or even the second. You'd think I could just walk in there and fire off every answer on the test, tip my hat, and leave. Our memories aren't that good, and a quick overview doesn't go far in preparing us to use our training. The training is set up to strengthen our recall by these steps:
Going back to the basics to make sure we know them inside and out
Simple role-playing asking, “What should I do if . . . ?”
Putting the training into practice
Repeat until it becomes second nature
Maybe you've heard someone say that they read the Bible years ago so there's no need to read it again. Maybe you've had the same thought yourself! Looking back at how imperfectly you recollect schooling from years ago, I'd bet you agree that our memories are fallible and that it takes constant retraining to hone our instincts to react properly—no matter what comes our way.
"For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . ." Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)
Being ready BEFORE the disaster can make all the difference
I admit I'm a bit of a worrier. No matter who you are, I'd bet you've laid awake at night, worrying about something. Some things we worry about might seem small:
“What should I do if I hear someone is spreading gossip about me?”
“What if I am embarrassed and I could make it better with a little lie?”
“What can I do if I'm burnt-out and yet everyone needs something from me?”
Some things are much harder. These are situations that can cause believers to cast God aside. These are moments we fear, and while some are inevitable, others we pray never happen to us.
“How do I trust in God's providence if I lose my job and we might lose our home?”
“How will I keep my faith if I, or someone I care about, becomes seriously ill?”
“What will I do when a loved one dies?”
“What if my mistake causes heartbreak for someone else?”
“How can I accept that God could have stopped a tragedy, but didn't?”
“How do I keep believing even when my heartfelt prayers go unanswered?”
Giving these thoughts a voice, and asking what we would do if they happen, can help us be prepared if they do. It is like how a faith-aid course has us practice various scenarios so that our first reaction is a good one. Learning scriptures, Bible stories, and songs about God can prepare our hearts and minds to handle the hard stuff.
I'm not saying we need to worry about these things. I used to think that worry helped keep me and my loved ones safe. That just isn't true. Worry drains the joy out of our lives. Jesus taught very bluntly:
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” - Matthew 6:33-34 (NASB)
Don't worry, but do be prepared to use your faith training
Jesus was also very clear that we will have struggles in this life. As he was preparing his twelve apostles to go out into service, he warned them they would be scourged (whipped), betrayed by loved ones, misunderstood, brought before kings and governors, persecuted, and hated. (Matthew 10:16-39) These are all things that Jesus had to endure while on the earth.
Jesus didn't just leave us with a dire warning and with no tools to handle the struggles of life. Learning and utilizing Jesus' teachings in the Bible are like building our life on a solid foundation.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." - Matthew 7:24-25
Every time we learn more from the Bible, every time we try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, every time we lay our burdens at the feet of God through prayer, we are building our life on a good foundation that will see us through any storm.
I'll say it again: We can never stop training our faith!
This is the fourth time I took the exam in my life, and this time I got 100%. (Yay!) Because I've covered the material before, it stuck in my memory better. Performing CPR felt natural. I was able to apply things I had learned to personal experience, to see what I did right and what I could have done better.
The more we train, the more natural it becomes!
While I do wish everyone had first-aid, I think that it is vitally important to be constantly equipping ourselves for faith emergencies and moral dilemmas. We know that people can suffer from the fall-out of a bad decision for the rest of their lives, or cause others to suffer as a result of their choices. Spiritual emergencies are as real as physical life-or-death emergencies, and we need to be ready to meet them.
Just like in first-aid, the first response when we experience a spiritual emergency is to call out for help. Instead of calling 9-1-1, we call out to God. (Though sometimes we need to call both!) We can be confident that no matter what disaster we walk through, God does not leave us to struggle alone.
We all need to be reading and studying the Bible consistently so that we keep the teachings and the Bible stories in the front of our minds, always ready when we need them.
So if it's been a while since you took your faith-training, don't delay! Get re-certified in your faith today! ;D
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