I felt like a juggler who had an impressive amount of balls in the air, masterfully wowing a crowd I cared far too much for. Each ball had a different word on it: Church, Work, Family, Money, Kids, Wife, Friends, Sports. All up in the air, being handled beautifully. The applause was wonderful, the 'wows' were raining from the sky. I felt like a somebody.
Now, God was there in the ring with me, in the corner, looking intently at me, not as amused and impressed as the crowd behind Him. While I was still juggling, He slowly picked up a ball lying on the ground. He wrote some words on it. I was too busy looking at my own performance to notice anything He was doing.
Then, at the highlight moment in my juggling act, He threw the new ball into my act. It was red. It was heavy. Very heavy. I just had a few seconds to read what He had wrote on it: Wife's Cancer.
I still tried to juggle and keep a straight face. I was still pretending that I could handle it, but the ball was getting heavier. Sweat was streaming down my brow. But I needed the applause, I needed the validation. So I kept going, and the red ball kept getting heavier.
I started dropping the balls. I quickly picked them up and started over. But they kept hitting the unforgiving ground and eventually shattered in millions of pieces. I couldn't perform anymore. I was at the end of me. The clapping stopped. The 'boos' started coming. I tried harder, but to no avail. Grumbles were becoming more audible. The crowd started to get up and leave. I begged them to stay, promised them a better performance. But there was another show opening not too far away, and I had lost them.
And so I was alone with God in the ring. I desperately searched for a crowd, but the seats were as empty as I felt. I finally turned to Him, standing in the corner, looking at me.
'Why did you throw in that big red ball?'
'Was I not doing well? Was I not amazing? Was I not using your gifts?'
'Didn't you see the crowd?'
'Don't you see I have nothing now?'
'I feel so empty, so lonely, so lost. I don't know what to do now.'
No answer, but a small smile was starting to radiate from His glorious face.
I dropped to my knees
'OK, Lord. I give up. I can't pick up any of my balls, they are all broken. I can't do anything for any applause, they all left. I'm sorry, I tried everything, and I failed. I need something to fill me. I don't know what makes me valuable anymore.'
A bright white ball appeared in front of Him, collecting all the dirty pieces of my old balls lying on the ground. It had become filthy, red, and far too heavy for anyone I knew to pick it up.
But He picked it up, cleaned it, made it whiter than snow, and, with His finger, wrote one word on it. He walked over to me, beaming with glory. Under every one of His steps, the word Grace was left as an imprint on the ring floor.
'Get up and take this, it is everything', He said. 'The more you will let this satisfy you, the happier you will truly be. You do not need to juggle anymore. Just hold this new ball and let it become you. And do this for Me only, noone else. I am the only crowd you will ever need.'
I got up, took the bright shining ball in my hands. It filled me in ways I could not have imagined. My destiny was now linked to better understand it and become more like it. 'Thank you' I whispered.
He moved back into the corner.
I admired the word He wrote on the bright, white ball He placed in my hands. I smiled as I read the name I thought I knew well, but forgot. It was my first love. It was the name that was above all others. It was the most majestic and most personal of names. It was the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. It was the perfect blend of Grace and Truth. It was the Word incarnate.
It was Jesus.