Many of us feel that we spend a fair amount of our lives juggling. And not the fun kind of juggling, either, but juggling the stuff on our schedules, juggling the various parts of our lives - family, friends, work, exercise, chores, hobbies. I know some people who are mostly only able to juggle the stuff in only one or two areas - just juggling work stuff or family stuff. And I think most of us feel that we are not very good at juggling and that we are always dropping one of the balls (or penguins, in the case of juggling penguins). There's a sort of frantic quality to juggling. Maybe more serene folks are the ones who are simply "striving for balance" while the rest of us feel as if we are always scrambling and lurching and most definitely always off balance, with more balls in the air than we can possibly deal with.
It's funny to watch clowns juggling, pretending to always be on the verge of catching themselves on fire while juggling those things that look like flaming bowling pins. Or someone like Tim Conway trying to catch or stop all those dimes he was trying to carry in big paper bags from rolling away in the old Chase Manhattan Bank commercials, which was not juggling but captures the sense of out-of-controlness I'm thinking of.
But it's not funny to watch a friend or family member all strung out on the stress of juggling all the time. There have been many times when I have answered a friend's "how are you?" inquiry by simply listing all the things I'm jugging, which of course gave the friend the definite impression that "I am too busy to take on anything else so please don't ask me to do anything, including make time for you!"
There is a great little story in Exodus when Moses was functioning as God's general in the battle with the Amalekites. Joshua commanded the Israelites on the field, and Moses stood on the hill overlooking the skirmish, his famous Red Sea Rod in hand. If Moses held his arms up, then the Israelites would be winning the battle, and if he put his arms down, the Amalekites would surge ahead. So Moses held his arms up. But eventually, Moses' arms got tired. So first, Aaron and Hur brought him a big rock to sit on, and then they stood beside him and Aaron held up one arm and Hur held up the other, and Israel won the battle. (Exodus 17:8-13)
Our lives are busy, and there is a certain amount of juggling that is, I suppose, inevitable. It's highly entertaining when it's the Zucchini Brothers doing the juggling at the Renaissance Festival. And if juggling energizes us and gives us life and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, then all well and good. But if it's because we secretly believe that we have to keep juggling in order to keep the whole world from falling apart, if we keep frantically catching each new ball thrown to us and add it to the circle of flying balls (or penguins), then we are not living the life abundant that God wants for us. We're just running ourselves ragged.