Spinning Out of Control

Spinning Out of Control

by Steven J. Callis


Do you remember Eric Brenn, the spinning plate guy?  He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show way back when, and recently I came across a video clip of his act on the internet.

On the stage was a long table covered with cloth, and there were 5 rods of some type, each one approximately 4 feet in length, positioned vertically on the table.  Beside each rod were a bowl and 2 dinner plates.  Beginning with one bowl, Brenn began spinning a bowl, and then balanced it on the first rod.  He followed that by spinning one of the plates on the table top, and then the second, then another bowl, and another plate.

He continued this process, periodically returning to items already in motion to restore their momentum, until all 5 bowls and 8 plates were spinning simultaneously without crashing from the table top or rod. As if that was not enough, he had also been giving some attention to a tray of 8 drinking glasses, spoons, and eggs.

I watched him dart back and forth between these projects that he had started, spinning one object while keeping his eyes on the others that were in motion.  I thought about how our lives sometimes feel as though they are spinning almost out of control.  Voices from every direction beckon for our attention, demanding our time and energy.  It becomes nearly impossible to give our full attention and focus to any single facet because there are so many other things spinning around us.

Our society has conditioned us to stay busy.  Technology demands that we be connected 24/7/365.  If we cannot be immediately accessed by phone, email, IM, text message, twitter, Skype, or Friendster, we are made to feel guilty for not being available.  We find ways to save time so we can further clutter an already overloaded schedule.  Eric Brenn provided an appropriate demonstration of what we look like in our daily living.

There was one thing I noticed about Eric Brenn, however, that is not necessarily true in our society.  He seemed calm and in control.  He did not panic when one of the bowls almost fell off the rod.  He did not give up when a bowl fell back into his hands as he tried to place it on a rod.  He never seemed to be out of sorts during his routine.

The secret is that he knew some things about physics and gravity and balance and bowl spinning that I do not know.  He possessed some knowledge of truth that enabled him to see beyond what appeared to be sheer pandemonium that would send most of us into panic mode.

In the Bible, Matthew’s Gospel records these words of Jesus, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  We must accept responsibility for our own physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  We are stewards of our time, energy, and resources.  There are times that we must stop, wait, be still, and rest.

There are also times that the demands of life build up on us and push us beyond our natural limits.  Similar to Eric Brenn, however, I have a knowledge of truth that enables me to see beyond what appears to be a life spinning out of control; there is Someone who knows so much more about the things of life than I could ever hope to learn.   So, I rest in Him as He assures me, “Don’t panic.  Don’t worry.  I care for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air.  How much more have I got your back.”

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