Spinning Plates . . .

By Henrikbothe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Henrikbothe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever seen a stage act where the showman has lots of poles with spinning plates on top of each one?  As you know, he has to keep running from pole to pole to spin the plates so they don’t stop and come crashing to the ground.  Things can get pretty hectic and the showman can become very frantic in his attempt to keep everything spinning at once.

The act has been used as a clear metaphor for a person being too busy and trying to keep everything going.  If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know how hard it is to accomplish anything effectively.

I’ve been working through several things in my life lately, trying to determine the best course of action.  Honestly, on many occasions, I’ve felt like the plate spinner.

Everything demanded my attention and nothing was getting done well.  I knew I had to make some changes, but waiting for clear instructions from the Lord left me exhausted.

I know everything comes in God’s timing, but the need for relief was becoming critical.  I don’t like to make decisions just based on emotions, so the frustrations while waiting mounted.

I used to think I was good at multi-tasking, but began to question that, in this season.  I have faith to believe that God will intervene and provide, so I was working it out, but was really struggling in the midst of it.

Because I believe in speaking life affirming truth, I just kept plugging away by continually reminding myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I often added, “God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness.”

Thankfully, I only melted down a few times, but I really did feel like I had too many spinning plates.  I asked the Lord what I should let go of and He answered me, but I balked.

I had heard a saying I believe is a quote by Oswald Chambers, “The good is the enemy of the best.”  It’s my understanding that this has often been used to promote aiming for a high standard rather than allowing a “good enough” attitude, which could lead to mediocrity or even to sin.

I began doing some research about this and discovered an alternate quote, more famous than Chamber’s.  It’s by Voltaire.  “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.” The best is the enemy of the good. “La Bégueule” (Contes, 1772)

As I pondered this second quote, I reflected on my journey to freedom from perfectionism, which I still sometimes fight.  In that case, trying to be or do the best can often prevent any valuable action.  So, that high ideal tends to limit the good that could be done if one weren’t so bent on having it perfect.

The two quotes are in conflict with each other, to some extent.  In trying to determine how to resolve some of my spinning plate issues, I realized there is another interpretation which comes into play.

If you look at the word “good” and take it positively instead of negatively, then Chamber’s quote can be interpreted as those things we do in life that are good things, but that prevent us, by way of distraction, from doing the highest best for which we were created.

The more I pondered, the more it became evident I needed God’s word on the matter.  I went straight to Jesus as my example.

In Mark 1, Jesus’ ministry in Capernaum was booming.  Crowds from all over the Galilee region heard about the miracles and were literally thronging Him.  Then, in verse 38, after His disciples had come to Him saying that everyone was looking for Him, Jesus made a strange statement.

“He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” “

I imagine the disciples were quite confused by that.  All the good Jesus had been doing would indicate His ministry was succeeding.  Why would He suddenly decide to go somewhere else?  I believe the answer is in the last part of the verse. “that’s what I came for.”  I believe that simple phrase shows us that He had a much tighter vision of His ministry than the others did.  Could it be that Jesus wanted to leave behind the good because He was pursuing the best?  I think it does.

Let’s look at another example.  Acts 6:2 says of the 12 Apostles when there were concerns about decisions on how the widows would be assisted,

“So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.”

This incident clearly shows that the Apostles had to have a higher view of their mission than settling disputes over which widows got to eat and which ones were turned away.  Feeding true widows is certainly a very good, Scriptural and much needed activity.  But the Apostles knew they were called to concentrate on the Word of God and prayer.

This example helped me begin to see that some of what I was doing, though very good and much needed, was really getting in the way of the best that I know the Lord has called me to.

On another occasion, Jesus had taken His closest disciples to Tyre for a much needed rest after an intense time of serving.  He didn’t need the rest, but they did.  During this time away from the thronging crowds, a Cananite woman came to where they were, begging Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter.

Matthew 15:23-24 says, “But He did not answer her a word.  And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”  But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending, because Jesus marveled at her faith and had mercy on her, even though this was outside the boundaries of His mission.  I love it that the Lord reveals to us how He adheres to the spirit of the law and not always the letter of it.

This gives me great hope.  I see that even He had to deal with distractions and too many demands.  This narrative helped me to have grace for myself in the midst of the spinning plates, but also caused me to see that even though Jesus made a rare exception, He still restated His ultimate mandate from the Father and kept that in focus.

There is another quote that brought me to such a place of peace in the midst of this difficult season.  It’s from the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven R. Covey.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things.  And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.  The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.””

So, from all the confusion of the past couple of months, I emerged with a renewed hope, a solidified and reaffirmed commitment to my mission and a great peace about what I have to let go of.  The greater “yes” resounds much louder now.

My prayer for you today, is that whenever you’re faced with having to make choices and decisions about the many good works that are at hand to accomplish as you serve Jesus, that you’ll remember this word from today and allow the Lord to grant you clarity of vision, courage to say “no” when you have to and free you of any guilt you may try to take on as you pursue the highest best God has called you to accomplish.

Until we meet on the other side, we all have limitations in our time and energies.  None of us can perform at top pace in a chaotic environment for very long, so free yourself of the unnecessary yokes or burdens, false responsibility or things you shouldn’t be carrying.  I pray the Lord will give you the wisdom to know the difference between what He has called you to do, what is a distraction, and what might just be a room full of spinning plates!

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Luke 10:38-42 “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me. ”But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.””

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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What To Do When You Want To Run And Hide? . . .

Something triggered a memory the other day of how I played hide and seek with my siblings and cousins when we were young.  I have some sweet recollections of running and hiding and watching for the streetlights to come on.  That was our cue that it was time to come in from our summer play and couldn’t hide anymore.  I never wanted to stop, but the grown ups demanded it.

I also recalled a sad time when I was playing with my sister and brother.  We were jumping over each others’ legs on a chair, taking turns.  I remember my mother was getting ready to go out and so she wasn’t really paying attention to us.  Normally she would have stopped that sort of play immediately.

Unfortunately on one of my jumps across my sister’s legs, my brother pushed me and I ended up landing on her leg.  I believe it broke in a couple of places.  I’ve blocked out the screams I’m sure ensued.  I think I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time and I vividly remember running to my bedroom and looking for a place to hide.

These two unrelated events got me to thinking the other day.  Sometimes when I’m reading news or looking at Facebook, I can become overwhelmed by the many things that are taking place on earth.  I truly believe we are in the end of the end times and that we don’t even have decades left before Jesus returns.

Because I believe that, I know that all of these things I read about or hear of are just signs of the times.  However, that, coupled with a lot of pressure to do ministry, serve in my church, and get the writing done God has assigned me can often result in my heart wanting to run and hide.  I just want to play my little hiding game and not be a grown up.

So I asked myself and the Lord that question.  What do I need to do when I want to hide?  The answer is very simple but not so easy to put into practice.  If you have been reading this blog for very long, you know that the Lord gives me these visual things to illustrate spiritual principles.

When children are playing hide and seek, there is an intention of hiding from someone so you don’t lose the game; you don’t want to be found out or be seen.  When I ran and hid after breaking my sister’s leg, I believe my intention was two-fold. 1) to avoid whatever punishment might be coming and 2) I was simply overwhelmed with fear.

I intentionally decided not to share a poem with you today that I had written several years ago about playing hide and seek, because I prefer to protect the people in the story.  But suffice it to say, sometimes when I ran and hid in our games of hide and seek, my intentions were less than pure.

There is very little we can do about our shame if we don’t come to Christ.  Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden because of their shame.  To be fair, the devil left his filthy signature on them after deceiving them and their shame was evidence of it.

In Judges chapter 6 the story of Gideon reveals that the people of Israel, out of fear of the Midianites, were hiding in caves and Gideon himself was threshing grain inside a wine vat to hide the wheat from them.

Elijah, after a glorious spiritual victory, ran and hid in a cave from Jezebel and her death threats.

Each of these scenarios illustrates the different reasons people feel the need to hide.  We want to hide whenever we’re overwhelmed, whenever we’re afraid and whenever we’re ashamed.  But what I believe the Lord wants us to understand today is that there is a type of hiding that is perfectly acceptable and even desirable.

The Word of God tells us that we are hidden with Christ in God.  Allow that statement to sink in for a moment.  You may have read it hundreds of times but you may not have ever realized the deeper meaning that I believe God wants to show us today.

The Lord Jesus is our only safe place to hide.  Every other place leaves us in our unregenerated human state.  Ashamed, afraid and overwhelmed.  Now, if you ask me, that doesn’t sound like abundant life, which we all know we’re supposed to have.

If we are to truly come into the sanctified, regenerated and victorious state of being the Lord desires, then we can only do that by hiding in Him.  That sounds nice.  But how do we do that?  I believe there is only one way.

Give up.

“What?!”  I’m sure you’re asking.  Yes, I said “give up.”  No matter what you’re facing, you need to realize that your human ‘being’ is corrupted and insufficient.  You can’t fix it.  It can’t help you in any way.  It’s so bad off that God tells us to crucify it!

Wow.  The reality of that statement should rock you to the core.  It really is hopeless.  Let’s face it, when we want to run and hide, our soul is actually making a cry for help.  We want the pressure off, the pain and fear to go away or the shame to subside.

But guess what.  It can’t, as long as you are living.  Unless, you kill off that old self that the Lord already judged as worthy of death, you can’t live through the condition you’re in.

In other words, running or hiding only delays the inevitable, like the streetlights that came on when it was time to come in.  Eventually you have to face the truth.  The flesh profits nothing!

So, how do we hide in Jesus?  How to we get out of our hopeless predicament?  I already said it.  Give up!  That means we come boldly before the throne of God to find help in time of need.

It doesn’t matter what you’re facing.  Divorce.  Bankruptcy.  Death of a loved one.  Physical pain or a death sentence.  Pressure to perform.  Rejection.  Suffering.  Guilt.

I could go on and on. But what I think the Lord is trying to get at today, is that if you want to run and hide, then run to Him, confessing your sin, your fears and your shame or lack of faith.

Put to death the deeds of the flesh and surrender to the loving embrace of the one and only Savior.  He awaits with open arms, ready to hide us and shield us from all harm.  When you give up trying to fix your own life and allow that life to be consumed by the holy fire of our Almighty God – then you are hidden and will have no need to run away.

My prayer for you today is that you will remember Jesus died so you could live abundant life – but only through allowing Him to hide you in Himself.  I’m asking the Father to make Himself known to you as your hiding place. I pray that whatever you’re facing, you won’t try to fix it by natural human means, but that you will surrender your whole being to Jesus.

I’ve done a quick little Bible study for you today so you can better grasp these truths. I hope you will find strength in the Word, in whom you are hidden.  After all, coming to Him is really the only healthy thing you can do when you want to run and hide.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

Proverbs 22:3 “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.”

Jeremiah 23:24 “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord.  “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.”

Psalm 31:20 “You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.”

Psalm 64:2 “Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity”

Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.”

Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.”

Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings”

Psalm 102:2 “Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; incline Your ear to me; in the day when I call answer me quickly.”

Isaiah 49:2 “He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; and He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver.”

Colossians 3:3 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

 Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

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