I have become good at the circus act…like most women I know. Juggling, wearing of many hats, role-changes in a matter of minutes. The fact is, our busy lives pretty much require this kind of skill on a daily basis. It’s a balancing act to keep up with everyone’s schedules, switch gears between work and relationships and ministry and household tasks that simply must be done so that people have clean shirts to wear and hot dinner on the table, and somehow keep my own person and relationships intact. But I am good with details and organizing, and sometimes it seems like I can just keep adding more in, if I organize it right….just one more small piece here and there, and if I just shift this over a bit I can fit one more thing in that spot.
With that kind of mindset, having a relationship with God can become just one more thing to fit in, another plate to keep spinning in this big juggling act.
But the satisfaction in being a Woman Who Can Juggle Many Plates is short-lived, and I heard someone say it again today, that we have learned how to “live crazy” and are working hard to teach our kids the same. When did we ever get the idea that doing more is what makes us more– that doing a lot is the same as doing well? My parents always said “If you are going to do something, do it well.” But back then it meant quality over quantity. It meant taking your time to think it through and do it well, so that you could be satisfied with what you accomplished. No regrets. That proverb applies to projects and tasks. It applies to lives, and if I only have one of those with no chance to do it over, then it makes sense to take the time to evaluate its quality….make sure I am living well.
Jesus told His closest friends that “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) The reaction of this man in the story seems old-fashioned, somehow, and narrow-minded. My first thought is how much simpler life was back then, that this guy would sell everything for the sake of something he found in a field of dirt. But that’s not the point at all, is it? The story is about the sheer value of knowing God, and the sensible response when you realize that fact. The man lays down his entire juggling act– trades it all in for the precious possession of a relationship with God. Get that one treasure and nothing else really matters. The Church-planter Paul said it this way “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…” (Philippians 3:7-9) It sounds almost too simple to be true, and calls into question the busy-ness we have come to accept as necessary.
But what if the Circus of Everyday Life is just part of the Enemy’s fog cover? What if all the urgent demands for our time and attention are not as vital as they appear? What if more isn’t better, and everything we are chasing after is nothing more than a school of red herrings? While the real treasure is buried quietly in the clay and could easily be passed over, unawares. Or worse yet, snatched up with only a passing glance and added into the spinning plates I can manage.
It’s not like you have to be a farmer digging around in the dirt to find treasure; Paul was on the road to Damascus, breathing fire and seething hatred against the new sect that claimed Jesus had risen from the dead. He was ready to kill them all, if it meant preserving the life he was used to– mind you, he was quite good at organizing thoughts and words and people. Until Jesus (aflame in His resurrected power) burst in on the traveler, and everything Paul had been doing suddenly meant nothing in light of the glory of God. He just laid it all down there in the middle of the road and it didn’t even matter that his physical eyes were blinded, because the eyes of his spirit had seen the Kingdom of Heaven and his heart was bursting full of joy. Later on he would say that God ”made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7) It was the man in the field all over again.
And really, isn’t that how this treasure comes to us, in earthen flesh? A miraculous Baby in a dirty manger….the Son of God walking these fields and laying His head down at night….a perfect Lamb dying on a hillside….a Body buried in a rocky cave for only a little while….until one morning it wasn’t. The treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven hidden in plain sight, and maybe it’s not so much a matter of digging around to find it, as it is opening our eyes to finally see what is truly valuable.
Maybe rushing around in this balancing circus-act is actually as crazy as it feels sometimes, and giving up everything we possess to gain Christ and His righteousness is the most perfectly sane and reasonable choice on earth. It’s worth considering.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
“Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Joy is a choice. You get to choose. Choose well.” (Ann VosKamp)