How Well Do You Juggle?

Robyn is the vice-chair of the Lausanne Movement and is blogging this month for the Towards 2010 blog.

A few years ago I watched as my ten year old grandson adroitly juggled five or six balls in the air.  I thought it looked quite easy so I asked: ‘Could I have a try?’  I started with two and that was fine.  Then I added another one and managed three balls quite well.  The addition of a fourth and then a fifth made me feel very stressed!  Soon I was not only not juggling them well, I couldn”t juggle them at all and all the balls fell on the floor!

It was then that my grandson gave me some advice: ‘Don”t try to juggle too many at once.  Just try three or four and don”t try to watch them all at the one time – just keep your eye on the one you are throwing up!  So I tried three and then four and found that as I put my focus on one, the others seemed to just keep going.

Out of the mouths of babes?!

So I began to think about my life and all the things I was trying to juggle.  Is the analogy of juggling a good one?  Probably.  Can I learn from that game?  Yes.  I decided to look at some characters in the Bible to see how they balanced the various responsibilities of their lives.

First I looked at Deborah.  She was a wife, probably a mother, if not of children – of the whole of Israel as we read in Judges 5:7.  She was a prophetess and a judge of Israel who was ready each day to hear and settle disputes.  She was so highly regarded as a leader of the Israelites that the commander of the army would not go into battle without her at the helm.  She was also a song writer and a singer.  She was so busy!!

Then I looked at David.  He was a son, brother, shepherd, musician and song writer, a builder, a warrior, a husband and father and a king.  His life was complicated and very varied and he was trying to juggle many roles at once with limited success.

During the last few days I have been spending time with Baroness Cox who is visiting Australia from the U.K.  She is a nurse, a rescuer of kidnapped women and children in dangerous parts of the world, a member of the House of Lords and a life peer of the realm, a speaker, author, humanitarian activist, a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 10, a passionate advocate of persecuted Christians throughout the world and a convinced Christian!  BUSY?  She didn”t say how she balances it all, but she did emphasize the importance in her life of quiet times alone with the Lord as she reads the Bible and prays.

Is that the key?  The Lord says in Psalms 46:10: ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and this is summed up in the words of a well-known hymn: ‘Speak Lord in the stillness while I wait on you, hushed my heart to listen in expectancy’.  Do we find time to be still with the Lord allowing him to speak to us?  Prayer involves listening as well as speaking.  Often when we pray we do all the talking and don”t give God a chance to speak to us; to remind us of his promises; to quiet our hearts; to help us see what the important things are in our lives and what the things are that we could let go.

So what are the lessons from all this?  If life is a balancing act how can we keep the balance without getting stressed and anxious and doing so many things that we don”t do anything well?  Is there a danger of being so busy that we don”t give time to our relationship with God and with others?

We are currently preparing for The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town next year and all those involved in various areas of the planning and organization are adding to their already busy lives and ministries extra responsibilities which are taking up a great deal of time and thought.  How successfully are we juggling those roles?  Indeed how successfully are any of us juggling the many demands that are made on our time?

I”m trying to learn from my grandson”s juggling act to make decisions about how many balls to keep in the air at the same time and to learn to focus on a few so I don”t lose the lot!  I”m also trying to put some reflective ‘still’ times in my life so I can be refreshed by God”s word and by spending quiet time with him.  I don”t how well I will succeed, but I”m trying!

Robyn M. Claydon is Vice Principal of Abbots Leigh School, Sydney, Australia and a citizen of that country.