“And now, the one and only…” boomed the ringmaster’s voice. A juggler ascended the steps and pranced onto the center ring’s stage. The sequins on his red and gold costume sparkled as he juggled three balls.
His assistant, a young woman wearing matching colors, began tossing one ball at a time toward the juggler. We stared in amazement as the count rose. Wild applause erupted when the tempo increased while the juggler stretched out on the floor and then stood. The balls continued in a cascading pattern.
As the finale music approached last notes, final applause began. Suddenly, the assistant tossed another ball toward the juggler. His head jerked sideways toward her. From our front row seat, we watched as she raised her eyebrows and drew her hands to her mouth.
The performer stumbled as he tried to incorporate the errant ball. Gravity prevailed. Balls bounced haphazardly and rolled off the stage edge.
One extra ball created disaster.
Managing a family resembles a juggling act. Laundry multiplies and mealtimes line up back-to-back. Trashcans fill and pantries empty. Children run in crying and dogs bark to go out.
In the unsettling world of COVID-19, the barrage of news accounts and employment changes push into the mix. Cooking, cleaning, and online shopping take longer when we shelter in place. Parents teach, and children learn online.
Home life is different and even busier than before.
Still, we notice challenges beyond our own. Some people are lonely, and some need masks. Others lack technology or food. Some fear loss of loved ones.
We read Hebrews 13:16 and long to honor God and help our fellow man: “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” When needs surface, we don’t want to hoard spiritual gifts or material blessings.
However, when we assume extra responsibilities without God’s direction, anxiety becomes a gravitational pull on peace, causing it to roll out of reach. When we notice opportunities to minister to others, how can we determine which ones to accept?
Consider two steps for prioritizing needs inside and outside of our homes during the pandemic:
1 · Spend time with God as early in the day as possible.
Seek His wisdom in prayer and Bible study as you yield your time and gifts to Him. If the feet of little ones hit the floor before yours do, pray as you brush your teeth, and read verses attached to the bathroom mirror until you have more time.
Here is my favorite morning prayer:
“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You;
teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.”
· Psalm 143:8 ·
In Luke 10, we read how Martha complained that Mary did not help prepare for guests. Jesus commended Mary for sitting at His feet. Although her household chores likely required hours of work, I picture Mary riveted to every word her Lord spoke. At that moment, listening to Jesus topped other priorities.
When we listen to God during prayer and Bible study, we learn to set priorities and serve as He intends, achieving balance with a peaceful heart.
2 · Do what you can, no more.
Refuse false guilt and the people-pleasing lure to do more than you can do without tilting your family out of balance.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, the same Mary, Mary of Bethany, focused attention on her Lord again. This time, she anointed Jesus with expensive perfume (Mark 14:3-9).
When grumblers in the crowd deemed her act wasteful, Jesus said, “She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for burial” (Mark 14:8).
Mary did not multi-task. She concentrated on what mattered most.
When I squeeze extra responsibilities into the schedule without listening for God’s will, some aspect of family life suffers. When that happens, we can ask,
Am I juggling more balls than God intended as I minister to my family and neighbors?
Am I trying to obey God or please people?
On the other hand, when we hoard time, gifts, and resources like pandemic toilet paper, we can pray, “Father, show me how You want to use me to bless a neighbor.”
With her eyes on Jesus, Mary used her gifts and resources. She did what she could at the time, nothing more.
During the pandemic, let’s begin each day by looking to Jesus for guidance. Then, with His strength, we will do what we can to care for those under our roof and beyond.
Would you share below how you achieve balance in meeting family needs and those of others? Which verses help align your priorities with God’s?