Tightrope artist isn’t one of my top one hundred career choices. While every job demands high accuracy, the tightrope demands perfection. An inch off isn’t “close enough.” I wouldn’t last five seconds as a tightrope artist. My frantically thumping heart would destabilize my entire body. My arms would flail wildly as I tried to steady myself. Then I’d feel the gentleness of empty air interrupted by the harshness of concrete. I already have a scar from a similar incident. In my opinion, one sudden and unplanned encounter with concrete is plenty.
Did you know the Lord Jesus calls His followers to “be perfect” (Matthew 5:48)? It’s a sobering command that shoves me out onto a moral tightrope. One mistake equals failure, I think.
Ephesians 5:16 helps me understand what moral perfection looks like. God says to make “the best use of the time.” Let’s keep building on the tightrope illustration: now, I not only have to make it across, but I must do it on a unicycle! There are so many good things I could be and should be doing! I may be able to distinguish between right and wrong, but can I tell the difference between good versus best?
I need to devour God’s Word. Jesus says it’s as essential as eating food (Matthew 4:4). This command makes things even harder! Now I have to juggle plates—as I ride a unicycle across a tightrope.To make the best use of my day, how many minutes or hours should I dedicate to studying God’s Word? Is there a “too much”?
A man named Pio called prayer “the oxygen of the soul.” Jesus treasured time with His Father so much that He often prayed late into the night. Philippians 4:6 tells believers to pray in every situation. Clearly prayer is essential too. Let’s upgrade the plates I’m juggling to torches.
Believers work (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We labor tirelessly to provide for our biological and spiritual families, as well as the poor and needy. Many people spend more time on work than any other activity. Some overly elevate work, which is the opposite of the balance I’m trying to achieve as I navigate the precarious tightrope of God-given responsibilities. I’m still terrified to be juggling torches, and now this new command fastens a blindfold over my eyes!
Christians pour their lives into people. Hebrews 10:24-25 emphasizes meeting together to encourage brothers and sisters and help them live out their faith. Do you ever wish you could spend all your time ministering to people (and being ministered to)? Thankfully, these wonderful-but-terrifying commands we’ve been talking about can sometimes be obeyed simultaneously. Christians may disciple one another as they talk, work, eat, study, pray, or do any number of activities together. But multitasking has its limits. Focusing on a single task is often crucial. Since this responsibility has made things still harder, I’m adding a hurricane to the illustration. Good luck juggling torches while blindfolded and riding a unicycle across a tightrope in a hurricane! This is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss tale.
After covering just four commands, I’m already discouraged. I’m as overwhelmed as a small child in the deep end of the pool. When you’re overwhelmed, whether by water or by seemingly impossible commands, you’ll look for help. In some situations, help may look like a life preserver. With the tightrope scenario, help might be a safety net set up between you and the concrete. Or better yet, a substitute tightrope artist could volunteer! That’s what the Gospel is all about. Jesus obeyed God’s law perfectly and suffered the consequences of my lawbreaking—both of which were infinitely harder than surviving my silly tightrope example. And God doesn’t merely—if I can say merely—provide a substitute. Through gifts such as His Word, His Spirit, and His people, God helps His followers obey His commands.
I want to make the best use of the short time I have. That means I need to balance my time between the various responsibilities the Lord has given me in His Word. It makes tightrope walking look easy.
Seeing a Christian’s walk as a tightrope is far from a perfect analogy. There’s a lot that it leaves out. It doesn’t communicate the peace and assurance that believers can experience when we walk with Him. But the image does help us to feel the exhilaration, sense the danger, and fix our attention on the prize waiting for us on the other side.
If I must step out onto a tightrope—and I know I must—I’m thankful He will be with me every step of the way.