Juggling Life
Philippians 3:4b-14

A few years ago I tried to learn to juggle, I only spent a few hours working on it but there was a couple of things I learnt from my exploits.  The first was that it’s quite difficult; the second was that it takes an enormous amount of concentration to get it right and not drop one or more of the balls as you build momentum. 

I sometimes think of life as a bit of a juggling act, especially our modern lives where we try to fit so much in to each hour of the day, and sometimes even more when daylight savings kicks in. 

We try to be great parents, employees, bosses, husbands and wives, friends and the list goes on.  If you think of each of those roles as a ball that you’re trying to keep in the air as you walk along life’s journey, there’s usually more than just the standard juggle of three isn’t there?

It may be a bit of a stretch but I see Paul’s early life as a bit of a juggle, all of the things he was fulfilling in order to be right before God.  He was pretty much perfect as far as what was required of him as a Jew of good standing.  He was circumcised according to the requirements, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, he was a Hebrew, followed the law as well as a Pharisee, and even went so far as to persecute the Christians who were teaching contrary to the law and he was righteous under the law, in other words, he followed the law to the letter.

Yet he came to realise after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus that all of these things were in vain.  Without Christ they meant nothing.  By clinging to these things and trying to keep them all in the air at once, they were blinding him to his need for the real righteousness, demanding all of his attention.
What’s got your attention?  Maybe you work so hard during the week, commuting backwards and forwards to work, running around doing stuff for other people that you find it difficult to get out of bed on a Sunday morning to come to worship.

Is there some external conflict going on in your life that’s taking all of your attention, trouble at work, disagreements with your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend?  Are you struggling to make ends meet with rising fuel costs, food, electricity, gas and water bills and the like and that is getting you down.  Whatever is getting in the way we all need to find a way to set it aside and return our focus to where it should be, on Christ.

I was relieved to read in a commentary that Paul isn’t calling for a radical change in our lives, unless pride in who we are and what we are doing detracts from our need for God.  In other words if we get so caught up in who we are and what we’re doing and it distracts us from focusing on Christ, then we probably need to have a bit of a rethink.

In some of our situations, we will struggle on and try to keep all of the balls in the air, but we need to call on Christ for our help and strength to deal with the problem before we move on.  In that case we’re switching the emphasis from our own striving, of trying to do it all by ourselves, and on our own merit, and turning to God through his Word and in prayer to help us bear the burden of our load.

We’d love to find the quick fix simple answer to all of our problems so that we can relax and enjoy life, but that may not happen.  As Paul says, “Whatever gains I had these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ”.

Whatever we strive for in this life pales into insignificance in comparison to what we have received through Christ.  Paul realised this and wanted to pass that message on to the church in Philippi and then it has been handed down to us to learn from as well.

All of the great things that Paul had been doing in his life, and they were all noble things, according to the will of God, he counted as nothing, so what about us and the things we think are important enough to demand our attention?

I’ve had a few distractions happening in my own life lately, so don’t think I’m singling you out or saying that you’re the only one who might be getting caught up in the everyday things of life.  Maybe it was having five years of study time where I had plenty of opportunities to spend time doing things with my family that has made it hard for me to back off in the last few years.  I still find myself giving too much attention to our sports and perhaps not enough attention to the things of God.  I think the evil one takes delight in our distractions.  Whenever one of God’s children finds another ball to try and hold in the air, I’m sure he rubs his hands together and is pleased with the result.

I think bit by bit, little by little we all need to switch our focus from the everyday mundane stuff and take a little time for God.  Even in the hustle and bustle of coaching seventeen 11 & under boys and playing in my own national championship series there have been times when I’ve been able to pray, spend time with God and hear or read his Word.

I think there are times when we need to pass everything over to the master juggler and ask him to keep everything in the air for us, so that we can take the time to look at the road ahead, the road to eternal life.  What God has given us far outweighs any short term, perishable gain we might get in this life.  As Paul said he regards everything else as rubbish in comparison to Christ, everything else can’t earn him eternal life, but Christ already has earned it for him and for you and me!

In my final year at Sem Terri and I went to a marriage retreat and mapped out all of the ‘things’ that we had going on in our lives, why don’t you go home this afternoon and set aside a little while, either by yourself or with your husband or wife and map out all of the areas of your life that demand your attention, think about how much influence God has on that life, is there room for Him, are there things that could be balanced better to allow a little more time to share with your loving heavenly father who wants to have a relationship with you, beyond a quick glimpse as you concentrate on keeping everything you’re juggling in the air?

It can be a wonderful exercise to realise where God is acting on your life in all of the things you are trying to juggle as well as during times of worship, prayer and devotion.  It can help you realise that God is there guiding you along the path, even when you are so focussed on other things that you can’t see him there, guiding you toward eternal life, with him forever.

Amen