This summer the circus came to town. Not just any circus. It was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus XTREME. In addition to all the traditional clowns, acrobats, animals and ringmaster, there was an “X-Game” component with BMX bikers, “Cirque du Soleil” type performers and break-dancing trampoline artists. My boys and I looked forward with anticipation as we entered the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
For the pre-show entertainment, rather than sitting in seats, the audience was encouraged to walk on the circus floor to have a close encounter with the performers. The sights, sounds and smells of the place were on overdrive. There were so many interactive opportunities to choose from. Dress up like a clown? Check. Selfie with a strong man? Done. How about a temporary tattoo applied by a juggler? That was available also. Something exciting was going on everywhere. Jugglers, dancing dogs, acrobats. If the visual feast wasn’t enough, there were venders offering tasty things to eat and glowing gadgets to buy. Literally, there was temptation at every turn. And this was all before the main event even started!
It’s an amazing thing to see the circus through the eyes of a child. I watched my boys as they gawked in amazement at the opening act. I laughed when they laughed and looked where they pointed. The whole experience got me thinking that, as a culture, we’ve become so accustom to such intense sensory stimulation, elephants, clowns and cotton candy don’t cut it any more. Even the circus had to kick it up another notch and go XTREME. Think about it…everyday life has BECOME a circus!
- Gawk at the tattooed person with piercings? Take a stroll through Market Night.
- Delicacies from around the world are available at our local grocery store.
- Extreme sports of every kind are just a click away.
- We’re constantly bombarded with flashy images and advertising.
- And there is the Siren Song of social media, seducing us into squandering our time as we live vicariously through others.
The Psalmist encourages us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a ESV). In a modern age where the distractions of a circus are common place, how do we find the time to be still?
It won’t happen by accident. Life is hectic. Stillness has to be intentional so that the focus can be on what is eternally important. Turn off the television. Put down the phone. Clear the schedule. Learn to say no. As we dive into the Word the constant noise of this world will grow quieter and the “still small voice” of life’s true Ring Master will be heard. We’ll have a front row seat to the work of the gospel as we watch lives being transformed before our very eyes. And this, my friend, is really “the greatest show on earth.”
By Bruce Herwig