“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out”
Amid the hubbub of Mallory Dock, with its eclectic mix of tourists, part-time locals, and street entertainers, I wedge myself between a fence and a row of camera-wielding sunset-watchers to celebrate the daily ritual of watching Earth’s nearest star disappear on the western horizon. As yellow-orange light spreads across the water and a silhouetted sailboat poses against the fiery ball that keeps our planet alive, I hear “Amazing Grace” behind me.
Turning my camera from the beauty before me, I focus on the source of the song: barefoot and ponytailed, he hunches over a guitar, singing of the One who holds each star in place. With simple chords and timeless lyrics, a reveling crowd is stilled by one unassuming street musician, reminding us of the Beauty Maker, who paints the skies each evening with an invitation to join Him for eternity. I sing along, losing myself in the beauty of the moment. After the sun and the song disappear, I close my eyes, savoring the scene.
That was a month ago. Now I’m juggling.
I’m an all-eggs-in-one-basket girl. I’m challenged by juggling… eggs, apples, bowling pins… you name it – I can’t keep it in the air! When Honey and I were recently in Key West for vacation I was amazed by those guys who entertain tourists by juggling flaming torches, swallowing swords, and commanding cats through fiery hoops. We “ooohed” and “aahhhed,” clapped and tipped our way down Mallory Dock until the sun began kissing the water with orange, pink and yellow light. I didn’t think any more about the jugglers until last week, when I started my new teaching job.
Two and a half years have passed since I’ve been queen of my own classroom. It was quite a learning curve to come home from vacation on a Sunday and walk into a classroom on Monday, knowing that I was the teacher, and nobody had mapped out my day or week in a neat little stack with a Post-it that said, “Substitute.”
I was on my own. Sink…or swim! (I’ve been “swimming.” That’s why you haven’t seen me here, writing about Step 11.) Swimming, like juggling, is exhausting.
My personal juggling act consists of trying to keep a classroom full of multi-age students functioning and on-task, learning a new school’s system of doing things, effectively teaching an unfamiliar grade level, grading papers, making lesson plans, meeting a deadline for my book, keeping up with my blogging (I’m three or four weeks late!), posting regularly on my Facebook page (another fail!) and being a good spouse, daughter, sister, auntie, godmom, friend, pastor’s wife, and neighbor. Oh, and keeping groceries in the house and gas in the car that takes me back and forth to work and church. Sound familiar? I’m sure you each have your own flaming torches to juggle every single day! How do we stay sane on our Western World hamster wheels?
Did you notice that something, or rather Someone is omitted from the above list? Yes, I failed to mention spending quality time with the ONE who keeps me sane and on the right track; the ONE who holds me together when I want to cry on the way home from school because my nerves are shot and my to-do list is still too long; He who gives me the words to write, the thoughts to think, the heart to love and the patience to work with His little ones. It is only He who sustains me, you…the whole wide world in His big, holy hands. And THAT’s what Step 11 is all about – Getting to know Him by spending time with Him.
Step 11 reminds me to do three things:
- Seek to improve my conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation,
- Pray for the knowledge of His will,
- And pray for the power to carry out His will in my life.
By incorporating these three things into my daily juggling act, everything else becomes easier to manage. When I consciously invite God into my little world, taking the time to talk with Him and to listen to the counsel in His Word, I am a more organized, disciplined, compassionate teacher, a wiser, more dedicated writer, and a better friend, neighbor and lover.
When I pray for His will to be done and His Spirit to dwell in me, I can say, “yes” to the things that are most important on God’s to-do list and let go of the things He’s not asking me to do right now. I don’t have to juggle the world. Jesus died for the world. I don’t have to be miss perfect-teacher-pastor’s wife-friend. Jesus in me can perfectly love those He places in my path. I can rest in Him, believing that I can do all these things through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:19). If I just juggle Jesus – keeping my eye on Him, making Him the focus of my life, the rest will fall into place and I will not fall flat on my face.
I don’t need to be amazing. I just need His amazing grace.
Father in heaven – remind me to be still and focus on You amid the chaos of daily life. Let me be more like that barefoot guitarist, just sitting still among the throng and worshiping the One who made it all. Help me to seek more and speak less, to pray more and strive less. Amen & Amen
Dear Reader – How to YOU do it? How do YOU juggle life? When and where to you find time to pray and meditate? Please share in the comment section so we can learn from one another. I’d love to hear from you!