Anthony Gatto is the greatest juggler of all time. A Floridian by birth, he was astounding audiences by the age of five and holds eleven world records staring for years in Cirque du Soleil. His records are for keeping specific objects aloft for longer times and in greater numbers than anyone else. Eleven rings, nine balls, eight clubs. To put that in perspective, only Gatto can juggle eight clubs because they are so big and awkward.
What’s mind-boggling is that Gatto, the world’s best, decided to stop juggling professionally altogether and no one is sure why, because he won’t talk about it. From YouTube videos where he sets world records in a cold sweat to actual performances where thousands of throws, sometimes four per second, are executed every time with pinpoint accuracy, Gatto seems tireless. But he wasn’t. He quit. I think he quit because juggling is exhausting.
Juggling is exhausting, very much like the life many Christians are living. Stay focused, love Jesus, walk the dog, make dinner, pay the bills, put the kids to bed, love your spouse, have some fun, serve in the church, solve problems… and then crash and the circus music halts! Hear me; it is absolutely not possible to keep all those things in the air. And because it hurts to have stuff you care about crash at your feet, most Christians opt for one of two things: either pretend you are juggling all that stuff when you know you aren’t, or stop caring about the juggle altogether and spend your energies on something actually doable. Christians are checking out of churches at a prolific rate because any causal review of the “Christian Job Description” has at the top “impossible”.
1 Thessalonians 5, which contains a pretty exhausting list of dos and don’ts for Christians.
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (verse 14, 16-22)
By the time you get to the end of the list, that’s a lot of balls to have in the air. Working up a sweat, juggling with all your might, but knowing you can’t keep it up forever, is no way to live the Christian life.
The passage ends with the most important part: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (verse 24). How do we miss this? Paul isn’t changing the subject; he is finishing the thought! God doesn’t just call me to do it; He Himself is the doer, if I will just lean into my constant communion with Him and, “yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,” (Romans 6:13)
The Christian life is the life of Jesus in me by the Holy Spirit. Christianity is not me striving to live like Jesus as a “thank you” for saving me. Christianity is Christ taking up residence in me by the Holy Spirit and living His resurrection life through me.
Describe your own experience with “juggling”, and what it’s like when things crash.
What word most fairly summarizes your Christian life: exhausted, defeated or empowered? And why? Are there changes that need to be made to live life in Christ by the Sprit?