I might be alienating a few people when I mention a piece of playground equipment that was common when I was a kid. The teeter-totter. I may be in the minority, but that was one of my favorite things to play on. Unfortunately it has been rendered nearly extinct, along with the merry-go-round and the 15 foot tall stainless steel slide. (Okay, honestly that last one needed to go!) I loved the teeter-totter, but I usually saw it used as an instrument of pain:
“Hey, Joe! Wanna Teeter with me?”
And then the game would begin. A showdown of wills and courage to determine who would be the first to bail while the other was high in the air so he could be sent crashing to the ground, bruising a tailbone or who knows what else. Good, clean, childish fun.
What I liked about it though was the science of the teeter-totter. Size of participants didn’t matter as long as they were properly placed. Even the number of participants could achieve the balance needed for a good Teeter! What mattered most was looking for the right people in the right place at the right time. If you did it well, you could ride for hours. (Not that we did, we weren’t that boring… However, we did try the maximum number of people on a teeter-totter once. It broke right in the middle.)
Another thing I enjoy doing is building rock cairns. If you ever get a chance to ride a bike around Mackinac Island you will see hundreds of them that have been built by people who are weird like me! There is something satisfying about taking the different rocks and examining them to find the right rock to support, counter-balance, or balance the rest of the stack. With trial and error, you can build some inventive stacks, and some of the best ones are supported by a small rock that holds the key to keeping it all in balance.
Life is that way. We all have a hundred different things that we have pulling us off balance, and it is easy to forget that these are the things God has given us to help us build our lives. It’s not that we are working with lousy material, it’s just that we need to work with what we have to find the way it is supposed to fit. We need to find the balance that will allow all of the craziness of life to amount to something beautiful that stands as a testament of a Relentless desire to not give up.
I have shared the story of my life and how so many things went crazy in my church history. The balances were off between truth and grace, and that threw the people around off balance too. In turn, a great deal of the teaching I received and the people I received it from ended up being very difficult to work with. I spent a number of years trying to get rid of a lot of the things that I had learned thinking that they were all wrong and destructive. That just wasn’t true.
You see, God allowed all of that in my life. I got that healthy dose of legalism that helped me understand the importance of obedience. Even though the Bible was not always followed, I had it deeply imprinted in my heart and mind that it was the source of truth,and I should never forget that. My views of God the Father and the Spirit were skewed, but they had put me on the right course with Jesus. I had stuff that was good to work with, and I had some crazy stuff that just didn’t seem to fit well. I fought for a long time to build a nice straight tower with these crooked pieces, then I tried to get rid of them all and get new pieces!
I finally realized that the pieces I have are good pieces for building. There are some that are large and heavy, but can be balanced out by something small. Truth is a heavy thing, and if you just sling it on the pile, it is going to fall over, just like putting the fat kid on the end of the teeter-totter meant someone was going to get hurt. (I was usually the fat kid, so I can say that.) Grace is light, but it complements truth and softens its impact on the heart. It holds truth in the right light where it can do a good thing rather than bludgeon. It moves the fat kid farther up the teeter-totter where he can ride in balance with the little guy.
Lately I have been looking for a better way to prioritize my time. Whether I am at work, home, church, or wherever, I seem to have a lot of stuff I am trying to balance, and I would like to chuck a whole bunch of it to start over and build what I want the way I want it to look. The thing is, I only get to work with what I have. I can work with that, or I can sit around and complain I don’t have the right pieces. I think I’ve been doing little too much of that lately.
Relentless living means you take what you have been given and you find the balance that works. It might not look the way you wanted it to look, but if it is achieving the proper balance in your life, then that is probably the way God wanted it to be! There could be several answers to the problem, but the balance is always the solution. The outcome may look different, but if it results in a proper balance, then it was a success.
When I listed my values, I originally put Balance as # 5. I have put a lot of thought into it since, and I now see it fits better at #4. See, you can do it with anything! When you have God in the right position, Family in the right position, and Friends in the right position, you end up needing Balance desperately. If you don’t balance those three things properly, then it will all come crashing down. It’s work! I won’t lie to you, It is hard work! The thing is, you will find that if you are living in balance, the work that goes in doesn’t feel as hard a lot of the time. It’s just tweaking after awhile.
Don’t think that things won’t come along to throw you off balance. They will. That’s the next blog. For now, just soak it in. You don’t need to start with new stuff. The life you have was not such a disaster that it cannot be built into something. God gave you the pieces, and He has plans for you to build something great. Set Him as your start point and build things on Him with the things that you have. Keep looking for that balance in Him, and I can promise you that you will be amazed at what you can do with Him!