Mark Affleck

I Turned into a Circus Performer Spinning Plates

April 29, 2017
Spiritual Growth


“Oh no! I haven’t made this month’s payment on the mansion. Or the sports car. Or the boat. Get to work and make some more money. You can do it…you’ve done it many times before.”
Thus began another performance of spinning plates in my life as a succeed-at-all-costs CEO striving and stressing to “have it all.” I was operating like a circus performer’s frantic and frenetic effort to spin several plates on sticks to keep their momentum going at the same time.
That was me early in my walk with Jesus. It almost feels like a dream now after being rescued by my Lord. But it was no dream and I was a master “plate spinner.”
During those years I worked relentlessly to manage and control every part of my life. The goal was to keep everything in motion and operating at maximum effectiveness. The consequences were horrific–from stress…to strained relationships…to broken dreams of living a balanced life in Christ.
Embedded in the spinning plates metaphor is a powerful connection to our faith walk. When we try to manage and control everything in life, each “plate” brings its own challenges. In life, our plates are things like faith, family, work, relationships, and finances. There are many more–hobbies and sports to name just two–but you get the picture. Each individual plate carries its own pressure to keep it spinning, but the collective challenge is what really makes trying to control our life tough.
The dangers of trying to control life and keep all of the plates spinning are very real and specific—frustration, anger, anxiety, jealousy, addictions—and many more. Add them all together and the danger level explodes.
“Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, ‘It’s no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them.’” Jeremiah 2:25
This predisposition to be in control like the plate spinner actually starts when we are children, always wanting something and eventually wanting everything. We also see it in adults who think they will be happy if they can just get that new car or watch or house. That was me. Kids and adults alike have become paragons of individualism today striving to satisfy their every desire. We have learned that we can get what we want by screaming and insisting we need it or deserve it—child or adult.
Being our own boss ignores God and leaves us vulnerable to collisions with sin and causes us to drift farther and farther away from knowing him and finding his peace.
And then we have no choice but to add more plates to our act.
Avoiding that fate comes when we ask God to retire our circus act so the plates will fall and break into countless chards of futility.

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