For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a good sense of balance. As a teenager I began balancing things on my finger, my chin, and my nose: sticks, brooms, boards, anything that was straight, and sometimes things that were not.

When I was seventeen, I told my friends in the lumberyard where we worked that I could balance a 16-foot green 2×4 on my chin. This unplaned board is rough and heavy. It weighs about 25 pounds.

Our pastor got wind of this bit of showmanship and he showed up after our shift was over with his camera to take pictures. He and my friends watched as I pulled a board from the top of the two-story stack of boards drying in the hot Alabama sun.

I took my shirt off and placed it on my chin so the grainy board would not tear up my skin. I used the stack of lumber to help me steady the board until I could get under it. Then I stepped back, struggling underneath the weight.

Holding the board in place in my hand, I centered myself under it until I had it balanced; then I took my hands away and held it for five, ten, maybe twelve seconds, before I let it fall to the ground.

The technique was the same as balancing a broom. The board was just heavier. The key is to keep your eyes focused on the top of the board and to keep your body centered at all times.

Now I can make it sound easy by giving you those two keys, but it takes a lot of practice, not that I expect any of you to start. I realize I’m a little weird.

However, what I’ve learned about balancing things, from boards, to riding a unicycle, to juggling, has some carryover and benefit to helping us live a balanced life in general.

Balancing a pole for children in Liberia

Balancing a pole for children in Liberia

Living a balanced life is important because whenever we get life out of balance, we end up with problems in one or more areas of our lives.

Perhaps you can relate to this example a little better. If the tires on your car or truck get out of balance, your tires wear out faster. Bearings, shocks, and your entire suspension system can get messed up. It will cause the steering wheel to shake.

That is the reason your tires are put on a machine which finds out where your tire needs a little extra weight to balance it out. The mechanic will add a little piece of weight onto the rim of your tire to bring it into balance.

If our lives are out of balance, it causes problems, too. If we are spending too much time working and not enough time with our family, we might provide for them financially, but they might be starving for attention and affection.

If we are spending too much time pursuing our hobbies, our family might feel neglected, and our work might suffer.

If we are not spending enough time resting, playing, reflecting, and recharging, we can be busy doing a lot of good things but end up burning out.

If we are not taking care of our bodies, no one else is going to. It can be a constant struggle to maintain a balance of exercise and diet so we can give ourselves the best opportunity to live long and healthy lives.

Balancing the books is more of a challenge for some than others but everyone has to balance the books or we will get ourselves into financial trouble, not just now but for the future which we have to also think about. But if stewardship is not a part of our financial mix, our books may say they are balanced but God says they are not.

The writer of Ecclesiastes gave us a beautiful picture of a balanced life when he said that there is a time for every matter under heaven: time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

This writer recognized that balance involves a multifaceted life. Becoming balanced isn’t a matter of allotting the same amount of time in our lives to different areas.

Most of us will spend more time working than we do with our families. Many of us will spend more time shopping than we do exercising. Even though there is a time for all things, the answer is not divvying up our lives into equal segments of time in order to stay balanced.
It’s more a matter of having the right priorities.

Do you remember the two keys for balancing? Keep your eyes fixed on the top of the object and keep your body centered under the object.

Spiritually let me show you how this works.

What have you always been taught about the Apostle Peter and the story about him sinking beneath the waves? When he stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus, he was doing fine until what? Until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves around him.

Now while that isn’t written into the words of the text explicitly, it’s at least inferred. I’m sure Peter’s fear of the wind and the chop on the water would have caused him to take his eyes off Jesus.

The first key to living a balanced life is to keep your eyes on Jesus and the second one is to keep Jesus in the center of everything that you do.

Always ask these two questions: “Are my eyes on Jesus? Is He in the center of everything I am doing?”

If our eyes are on Jesus, that will make a huge difference each day as we decide how many hours to work.

If he’s in the center of our decisions, it will make a huge difference in the career we decide to take.

It will make a huge difference as we decide what kind of employee or boss we want to be.

If our eyes are on Jesus, the decisions we make about our professional lives will be different than if we were making decisions strictly about profit or how a decision might benefit our career.

When it comes to our bodies, if our eyes are on Jesus, then our eyes shouldn’t be on excess food. We should think of our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s what the Apostle Paul tells us they are. We should look at taking care of this temple as one of the ways we give honor to God.

When we take our eyes off Jesus the body becomes an object for our own glorification or lustful desires.

The temptations of the flesh are great and at every point we must reject them and realize that Satan wants to use the flesh and the weaknesses of the flesh as a weapon against us, to knock us off balance, and into bondage.

It’s so important to maintain balance of our physical bodies because there are so many roads that can lead to addictions, abuses, and unhealthy practices. So we have to be diligent in guarding what comes to us through our five senses. If our eyes are not on Jesus, there’s a good chance our eyes will wander to something unholy which will lead the rest of our body to indulge in unholy practices as well.

We need to use the Bible and prayer to help us center our lives. The fact that we read the Bible and pray doesn’t mean Jesus is in the center of our lives. Self-righteousness was a problem for the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and it can be a problem for us. However, if we use these disciplines, humbly asking God to reveal himself, our reading of the Bible and our praying can become like that long pole that a tightrope walker uses to keep his balance.Unknown

When Nik Wallenda, a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas crossed a 1400-foot stretch of the Little Colorado Gorge on a two-inch cable in 2013, he carried a 30-foot, 43-pound pole to help him maintain his balance. This coming summer he’s going to recreate this feat of crossing the Tallulah Gorge which his grandfather made famous forty-five years ago just 54 miles from here.

Now we think he’s crazy for making these kinds of journeys, but Wallenda would tell you that crazy would be trying to make such a journey like this without that pole.

imagesWe are just as crazy and arrogant to think that we can cross the gorges of this life without God’s help, through His Holy Spirit as we engage in service, prayer, and the study of His word.

Are you are trying to cross life’s gorges without God’s balancing agents?

Are your eyes on Jesus? That will make a huge difference in our relationships. It should affect who we date, which will then affect who we marry. Keeping our eyes on Jesus affects whether or not we respect our parents. Keeping our eyes on Jesus affects whether we love our neighbor and whether we pick and choose which neighbors we love.

Matthew writes in his gospel that “when (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid and he began to sink and he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ (Matthew 14:30-33)

All of us here have been Peter at some point, and you might be Peter today. There might be some area of your life that’s out of balance and you feel afraid. You can feel yourself slipping beneath the waves.

You tried it on your own and things haven’t worked out. This morning I have good news. Jesus has heard your cry for help and he’s inviting you to trust him.

Jesus is the one who can bring balance to our lives.

Riding a 6-foot unicycle in my hometown of Louisville

Riding a 6-foot unicycle in my hometown of Louisville

I learned how to ride a unicycle in the hallway of my dorm at Samford University. Every time I got off balance I could reach out and touch the wall and steady myself and keep going. Eventually I built enough body memory and muscle control that I learned how to keep my balance.

Jesus wants us to trust him that way. He wants us to reach out to Him because he has the power to restore balance and to help us maintain balance to our lives.

The Holy Spirit is that unseen wall that surrounds us with the presence of God. John calls the Holy Spirit a helper. Luke says the Holy Sprit provides us with power.

The Holy Spirit will help you find the balance you need.

Is there some area of your life that’s out of balance?

Right now, go to God in prayer, talk to Him and ask Him what you should do about it, and then decide what first step you need to take to bring balance to this area of your life. Perhaps it is just acknowledging that things are out of balance and then making a commitment to have a conversation with God about the changes you need to bring balance to your life.