The Last Name Ain’t Ringling
Have you ever been to the circus?
If so, please stop and think with me about exactly what all of that entails. Just the spectacle of the whole thing is utterly amazing to me. I mean, there are multiple acts right in a row – Boom! Bam! Bang! – guy eating fire over here…monkey riding a bicycle over there…and that’s all before you’ve even started eating your cotton candy. Large furry “cats” who could easily eat any one of us for their mid-morning snack, obey commands from a guy in tights with a little whip in his hand. I mean, really? It flat out doesn’t make sense.
In fact, pretty much everything you see at the circus doesn’t make sense:
People balancing thirty feet in the air, blindfolded, as they cross a tightrope, on a unicycle for goodness sake, and with no net. No, they didn’t lose a bet – this is their chosen profession, people.
Six ton elephants jumping and dancing and twirling around as if they were toy poodles in the dog show and were born to move that way.
Grown men wearing makeup and oversized, mismatched clothes while they scamper around making fun of everyone, including themselves.
Twenty plates spinning on nothing more than overgrown toothpicks…all at the same time…spinning ‘round and ‘round and ‘round while the clown jumps back and forth all over the place, not letting a single one fall.
It just doesn’t make sense.
But, then again…I would venture to say that if you stopped and looked at your own little circus you call “life”, it wouldn’t take you long to respond in the very same way.
How am I going to get it all done?
Where are we going to get the money to survive this month?
How in the world have these kids turned out even remotely normal?
It just doesn’t make sense.
I’m not sure about you, but I think we can all relate to at least one of these circus acts. Maybe your boss attacks you each day as if your collar is made of fresh sirloin and he is the king of the jungle. Or, maybe your kids run around like monkeys and you’d swear your house looked (and smelled!) like a circus tent on any given day. It could be that you are surrounded by “good” people who have their own fake smile painted on their face all the time, making you wonder if you are the only one with real issues.
Can you relate?
I know I can. And for me, friend, it is the plate spinning. That’s my act.
I am that clown (I can hear some people saying Amen!) 🙂rushing around trying to keep every plate spinning. Too many plates; not enough me.
Spouse, kids, work, pets, finances, church, sports, school, parents, in-laws, carpool, Bible study, cleaning, deadlines, hobbies, volunteering, illnesses, debt, exercise…and so on and so forth.
Do you recognize any or all of these plates? I would imagine you do.
You know what the hard part is? Most of these are not bad plates. We aren’t talking about spinning plates like crime, drugs, deceit, jail, violence, etc. Generally, those plates aren’t the ones that get us down, are they?
The truth is this friend; you can’t keep even all the good plates spinning. It doesn’t matter if one plate is a collectible china plate with Scripture etched on it by hand. Or if another heart-shaped and was hand thrown in a kiln and carved with your wedding date and vows. You may even have a couple more that were made at a pottery place with precious hand-prints that aren’t nearly as little as you remember. Oh friend, those are some good plates. Our lives are rich because of those plates. But, if you also have another twenty plates spinning around them, you simply will not be able to keep them all up. And, the sad part is – you don’t get to choose which plate crashes first. It is that simple. I’ve heard it said that “more isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more.” Friend, this is so true. And this is coming from someone whose nature is “anything worth doin’ is worth over-doin’.” So, trust me, I know this is hard.
But I wonder – what is your plate count right now?
In John 10:10, Jesus says that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The thief is our enemy, Satan. And he comes ONLY to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal your joy, kill your dreams and destroy your personal relationship with Jesus. He would love nothing more for you to live your entire life in defeat, constantly feeling like you can’t get it all done…aren’t doing a good job…and that it won’t…ever…get…better.
But, Jesus did not come so that we could all live over worked, under paid and totally stressed out. I feel like you and I pick up a few of those plates, ourselves, friend. Jesus came that we might have life to the full! And no, that doesn’t mean full of more plates to spin. That means full of his joy, love, peace, goodness, selflessness and everything else that reflects a relationship with Him.
But I can’t let even one plate fall. I just can’t. This may be what you are thinking right now. I understand that.
Take it from someone who has spent the better part of the last few years lying flat on a couch spinning one stinkin’ plate all by its lonesome self. Somebody came in, wrapped my plates in bubble-wrap and packed them up without my permission. Friend, I’ve been dying for some more plates. If it were up to me, I’d have gone and bought a 24-piece set and started spinning months and months ago. Thankfully, it wasn’t up to me. God made me. And because of that fact, He knows me so very well. He knows that for reasons I may never understand, I have needed to focus on just one plate for a while – getting better – inside and out. My healing over the past few years has been far more than simply physical. In fact, I am pretty convinced that the getting better inside is far more what He’s been after.
So, lonely I waited…spinning my one little plate while the rest of the world was buying up those 24-piece sets like it was the one-day sale at Macy’s.
Hear me on this…it wasn’t until my heart changed about all this plate spinning that I was given back another plate to spin. Once my desire was for only a few plates, the best plates, the plates He wants me to spin…that is when He began to trust me again to receive plate after plate.
I couldn’t be more thankful.
I want you to have this freedom as well.
But you don’t understand what I’m going through. You don’t know my issues. Our debt is too large. My kids need too much of my time. My job is too demanding. My spouse is the problem.
You are right. I don’t know your problems. But, I do know the One who made you. And rest assured He knows your problems.
The question is simple…do you want to keep spinning all those plates or not?
Have you ever wondered why those circus elephants don’t break free? I mean, you see these enormous animals who, with one leisurely decision to sit down, could turn your SUV into a metal pancake…yet, they are tied to these little stakes in the ground even your grandmother could break free from. As the story goes, a western visitor was traveling in a safari area and asked this very question. “Why don’t they simply pull up the stakes and walk away?” The local people replied that when the elephants are babies, they are tied to these small stakes and they quickly learn they can’t break free from them. So, even when they grow up to be big and powerful, and could easily walk away, they don’t because they have accepted the idea that they can’t.
That is the enemy’s goal for you and for me; that we never break free.
So, really it is up to us to make a choice. I want to lovingly encourage you to do evaluate your plates. Ask yourself some hard questions.
Do you really need them all?
Are you willing to sacrifice now in order to live a more “full” life later?
(Like me) Do you often try to pick up a plate you know you were meant to let go?
If it was all taken away, which plates would you really miss?
Looking at all these plates, are your priorities in the right order?
Friend, the only plate that really must keep spinning is your relationship to God. And no, I don’t mean “Yes, we go to church.” As my pastor says, “Being in church does make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car.”
Seek Him. Read His Word. Study it. Memorize it. Diligently pray for how HE wants your life to look. Ask Him which plates need to be dropped from your act. The freedom that awaits you amazing. The life that awaits you is full of what He wants it to be full of.
Go to the zoo. Walk in the park. Heck, ride a roller coaster or two. Just leave your old circus life behind. Look in the face of that enemy and watch his face as he realizes…
And now…ladies and gentlemen…in the center ring…It’s. Not. Me.