Cultivating Personal Lifelines

What is a Lifeline?  

Most of the dictionary definitions of a “lifeline” relate to the sea or vessels on the sea.  However, Merriam-Webster provides a different definition which relates to the blog for today – something regarded as indispensable for the maintaining or protection of life.  In this context, lifelines are those things which help us maintain life, that is, they enable us to continue on when everything else seems to be going wrong.  Or, to put it another way, they are those things which help us maintain stability and balance when the grind seems intent on knocking us for a loop; and as the definition above states, they are “indispensable.”

These lifelines are evidences of God’s grace in our lives – undeserved gifts which get us through each day.  They are glimpses into the glory of the grind.  When these glimpses begin to disappear or fade, we lose touch with the glory and are left only with the grind.

The Ultimate Lifeline

What are these lifelines?  They are different for every person although the primary lifeline in the life of every believer is the same – Jesus.  He is our solid foundation, fortress, anchor and much more.  If we are not looking to him daily to be our lifeline we are beginning to drift.

Other Lifelines

However, Jesus is not the only lifeline our gracious God provides.  For many of us (I recognize this is not true for all) our family relationships are lifelines.  When the home is a haven of rest where the burdens of the day can be shared and shouldered by the family (especially a spouse, if present), the burdens are lessened and there is a taste of grace and glory to sweeten the bitterness of the grind.  In years past I traveled several times a year to speak at camps and conferences and I would be gone for four days or a week at a time.  I enjoyed doing that but the older I get, the less attractive that becomes.  I much more enjoy the lifeline that being at home provides.

Still there is more.  While most lifelines are not physical, they can be. One of my lifelines (in addition to Jesus and family) is running.  I usually run four times a week early in the morning and it gives me a time of solitude for thinking and praying.  The body kind of goes into autopilot and my mind and spirit are free to wander and wonder.  Last November I had a serious ankle injury which put a stop to my running for several months.  I found myself much more susceptible to discouragement and depression when I could not run.  A lifeline had been cut (happily, now restored).  Another lifeline for me is reading.

Cultivating Personal Lifelines

These lifelines are indispensable because without them it is difficult to carry on.  Since they provide what you need to maintain stability and balance, every missing lifeline would make it that much harder to deal with the issues and stresses of daily life.  If all your lifelines were cut, life could seem completely overwhelming.

Since they are so critical, it is important that we take the time to cultivate those things in our lives that the Lord has provided as lifelines.  They can easily be squeezed out by the busyness of life but we lose them to our own peril.  Identify them, make time for them, and enjoy the glimpses of glory that they introduce to the daily grind.

Wise and insightful readers – what are the lifelines of your lives?


About Dr. John H. Harbison

Son of God, Husband, Father, Author of "Keeping Christ in Ministry,"Vice-President for Academic Affairs, College Pastor, Runner, Writer
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3 Responses to Cultivating Personal Lifelines

  1. gopherwood says:

    I feel like lifelines, while clearly important, could also be easily abused . . . how do we strike the balance between using lifelines in a healthy way and abusing them to the point of becoming reliant on them (instead of God, or even just spending too much time with them instead of with work)?

    My lifelines, I think, are family/friends/Bethany, television, reading, and writing.

  2. Cindy Cox says:

    Excellent, John! Thanks for stimulating my thoughts…what are my lifelines??? Hmmm!

  3. AJ Harbison says:

    I think it’s definitely important to know what your lifelines are and understand yourself in that way–or else, as you say, you can be completely overwhelmed by life and not understand why. I know for me that understanding the lifelines that help me “recharge” as an introvert has been crucial. If I feel exhausted or burnt out, I know that what I need to get my energy back is either physical rest or the fellowship of certain people or certain small groups of friends–while being around other groups of friends might make me even more tired. Greater self-knowledge is always a good thing. Thanks for encouraging us toward it!

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