How to Keep the Elephants off your Air Hose
The alarm clock has awakened you early in the morning. After getting dressed and starting the coffeemaker, getting ready for your quiet time with the Lord, you remember a meeting that was scheduled early that morning. Without having time to really talk much with the family you are out of the door and your day is well underway. Your schedule is a little tighter than you realized and the calls you were going to make to others in the morning never get done. Lunch is hurried and as you start your afternoon tasks you seem more behind than usual. You would like to find time to read your Bible, or pray during the day, but other demands crowd in until you find yourself more pressured as the day goes on. You have a feeling that you are running on fumes spiritually, having really accomplished very little of significance during the day. You fall asleep frustrated by yet another day that was out of your control with little hope that tomorrow will be any different. This is the type of day which Howard Hendricks described as “having elephants on your air hose.” These elephants are often caused by incorrect priorities, insufficient prayer, and inadequate planning.
Unless our priorities are correct, we have no hope of having a day that is pleasing to the Lord and satisfying to ourselves. Matthew 6:33 declares His priority for us daily. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Unless we firmly establish and set apart our best time each day to meet with the Lord, and to seek His direction as to what activities will promote His Kingdom each day, our days are not under His control and are subsequently out of control. A friend of mine whose life was out of control with too many activities had seen his own time with the Lord disappear to only a few minutes daily. After our discussion and prayer about his schedule, both he and his wife soon started their day together, spending one hour with the Lord before any other commitment. He related this decision had affected every other part of his day at work and at home, enabling other aspects of his day to fall into place. By “seeking first His kingdom,” he had experienced the Lord’s grace in seeing that “all these things will be given to you as well.”
Insufficient prayer is often another reason that we experience elephants on our air hose. Our Lord says the following to us in Luke 18:1. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (KJV) G. Campbell Morgan describes in this way the meaning of “men ought always to pray.”
“So that in prayer there is included, first, always first, the thought of worship and adoration, that content of the heart with the perfection and acceptability and goodness of the will of God which bows the soul in worship. That is the first attitude of prayer. To pray is forevermore to set the life in its inspiration and in all its endeavor toward that ultimate good of the glory of God. The supreme attitude of the life becomes that of submission, and the supreme effort of the life is that of co–operation with God toward the ultimate upon which His heart is set. It is to have a new vision of God and of the ways of God, to be overwhelmingly convinced of the perfection of God, of the perfection of all He does, of the certainty of His ultimate victory, and then to respond to the profound and tremendous conviction by petition, by praise, and by endeavor; and to “pray without ceasing.”
To the measure that our days are characterized by these attitudes of mind and heart we are always in prayer. The alternative to “always to pray” is summarized as “to faint.” G. Campbell Morgan describes fainting as follows. “Quite simply, to be paralyzed, to be weak, to be worthless, to feel the force dying and the vigor passing, to be beaten, to be broken down and helpless.” Howard Hendricks would characterize this as having “elephants on our air hose!” If we would keep them off, we must be in the prayerful attitude of mind and heart as described by G. Campbell Morgan throughout our day.
The third reason we experience elephants on our air hose is inadequate planning. Our culture places a high value on being productive, always being busy, sought after, being in demand and often resulting in a life with more commitments than we can handle. Interruptions to our day are often met with frustration and anxiety. Our Lord’s life, however, was characterized by interruptions. Many of the miracles and conversations recorded were interruptions to His day. He never was in a hurry. He knew that His day was under the control of His Father and He could meet each need that was presented to Him. Terry Taylor mentioned years ago that we should ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our schedule. In order to do this, and to be available for the “interruptions” the Lord would bring each day, I established a margin years ago in the morning and also in the afternoon. This was unscheduled time consisting of thirty minutes each morning and one hour every afternoon. This removed hurry and anxiety about my schedule and provided me opportunity to spend time with those whom the Lord brought during that time. Not everyone has the choice to schedule their day in such a fashion, but the principle is the same for all of us. Learning to build in some free time, or margin if you will, gives us time for the important rather than just the urgent. As we consider our plans, the scripture advises us to “Make plans by seeking advice.” Proverbs 20:18. Others may have ideas that have helped them in similar situations in which we find ourselves.
Have the elephants been on your air hose lately? If so, the truths of Matthew 6:33 and Luke 18:1 will be of help as you consider their application to your life. As we follow the Lord’s direction from these scriptures, He will also give wisdom into obtaining the margin we need each day, so that by His Grace, our lives will be satisfying to us and bring glory to Him.
In Christ, Richard Spann