In 1919 two competing operations merged to create Ringling Brother’s Barnum and Bailey Circus and soon billed itself as the Greatest Show on Earth. Last week news reports stated that the historic circus has come to the end of an era. This wonder of family entertainment will be was closing its doors after completing a 2017 farewell tour.
Annual circus attendance was a highly-anticipated event at the Rutledge household as I was growing up. Wedged between siblings, spellbound as I clutched a warm, aromatic bag of peanuts, I was constantly assessing future job options. While tempting, I knew I wasn’t destined to be one of those girls spinning in big hoops above the center ring…spinning makes me sick! However, I did have career aspirations of becoming the lady in the twinkly outfit, riding that awesome elephant. Also captivating my pint-sized attention was the Ring Master. This fellow stole the show the entire night. He made people laugh and kept the circus acts seamlessly on track. As an additional perk, he wore a red twinkly coat and a very stylish top hat and never needed to risk life or limb. Yep, this was undoubtedly the job for me!
As with most kids, the goofy “what I want to be when I grow up list” was a process of constant evolution. Just as I knew the elephant riding lady job came with a spangled outfit and large feathers, I also deduced that this job came with monumental amounts of poop and the possibility of being squished. I moved out of “The circus life is for me!” phase pretty quickly!
We laugh at such notions now and somewhere along the line stepped into career path we enjoy, are good at, or one which provides a salary allowing us to live indoors! We may change hats a few times along the line; following our dreams or better opportunities and that’s alright. Flexibility is a good thing!
Having embraced and embarked on the path of following Jesus, some may be in a quandary as to what ”following” entails. No longer is it, “What I want to be when I grow up-but, what does the Lord want me to be? Beyond obvious Bible study, we may generalize and set a good “Christian example” or raise our kids according to Godly principles. I certainly am not arguing against that! There is that feeling there must be something more, a meaningful contribution, a larger purpose or a higher calling now that I am a recipient of this amazing news of Christ and what He did for me!
We often think of the big dogs like Billy Graham, who ministered to zillions of folks on TV or in huge stadiums. Aren’t they the ones really out there working for Jesus? The pastors of mega churches or those that punch out books as though they were God’s little PEZ dispensers- these are the special few, the worthy ones, the qualified and extremely photogenic- bringing in those sheaves!
“Ministry” is a funny and easily misunderstood word. A look back to the book of Acts can show us exactly how the early church and the disciples interpreted Jesus’ ministry views. The first church didn’t consider “ministry” only something for Peter or Paul. Those fellows were certainly powerhouse leaders, who maintained an Apostolic covering to keep the early churches on track. But, the general idea in all those First Century new churches seemed to be: This is an all hands on deck, let’s go get this REVIVAL moving! I’m available, USE ME!
With less concern about how big a splash we are making or whether our contribution will change the world; our entire focus must be, “Is what I’m doing today- this very minute, pleasing to God?”
Ephesians 4; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:18-20; 1 Corinthians 12 all reveal a paradigm of loving action- of big or small readiness. Where ever I go, I should be ready to be supernaturally and joyfully operational at a moment’s notice! I may find myself down the street at the Country Store or the Holy Spirit may waken me with instructions to go further afield. I’m good either way, because I’m available and I’ve told Him so.
Neither Billy Graham nor I was called to be famous, we were only called to be available. The details come on the fly. Larger missions probably require more character. However, both Joy and Availability qualify me for the small and the large. Both are equally significant because both require obedience and that all important, teachable spirit.
Stadiums and pulpits are not required to share the love of Jesus, or embark in discussion about the amazing power and Good News of the Kingdom (which encompasses much more than just salvation thru Jesus). A spontaneous testimony of personal healing to someone who is sick or scared is frequently an empathetic entrée letting them know I serve a King who is still in the Miracle Business! It is all significant to Him.
Only availability and readiness dictate whether the Lord has me joining the circus or blogging in Hinsdale County. If his plan calls for it, He will pave the way for me to lead a Revival in a large stadium. Each job, at it’s core involve (or should) personal willingness not only to share Jesus and understand the requirement of the Holy Spirit empowerment. Following Jesus, means embracing all his “normal operating procedures”, to perform demonic deliverance, speaking in new tongues (personal, powerful prayer language or a specific foreign language supernaturally provided by the Holy Spirit, in the moment) as well as healing the sick. Mark 16: 20 summarizes…And they went forth and preached EVERYWHERE, the Lord working with them, and CONFIRMING the word- with signs following.
While on this earth, not only is “the world our oyster“as the saying goes; but this dark world really is our Circus …and those ARE our monkeys! Both the glib Ring Master, the lady riding the elephant, the ticket seller and the fellow hawking peanuts will participate in the Greatest Revival on Earth! This season is coming to an end. Just like the Ringling Brother’s Barnum and Bailey- This Circus of life doesn’t go on forever.