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James R. Stout

Don't Join The Circus

            It happened frequently when I was growing up. Perhaps one of my sisters got something and I didn’t or maybe I felt that I had been overlooked for something that I believed that I should have been rewarded for. Whatever the reason was didn’t really matter. Too often I would loudly proclaim, “That’s not fair!” It didn’t take long for me to know what the response was going to be from my father. He would say, “It’s no circus either.” I always hated that response.

            Over the next several years I chose to use that proclamation less and less. Part of the reason was because I didn’t want to hear the response from my father. But mostly I started to realize that life truly isn’t fair. As for the circus, well, life may well be a circus. There are certainly some strange critters out there in the world that are thinly disguised as human beings. Let’s think about some of those critters.

            First, there are the clowns. Did you know that there is a word for the fear of clowns? Yep, it’s called coulrophobia (cool-roe-foe-be-uhh). I think I may have a fear of the people who possess advanced degrees in psychology who coin such words. But think about the clowns you’ve met in life. Some of them may be harmless. Maybe you have a co-worker who is prone to practical jokes. You get to work one day and when you open a desk drawer out jumps a colorful plastic snake. You immediately know that the office clown is the culprit. How about the guy who is three shades brighter than flamboyant? He shows up at work wearing canary yellow pants, a pink shirt, a lime green sport coat, and purple spats. Yea, he’s definitely a clown. Then there are the clowns that are harmful. They may well belong in an asylum. These people are getting more and more common today. They will say or do something that they will claim was just for fun, but their motives are not. They’re the kind of people who throw a verbal grenade into the room and then apologize profusely claiming they didn’t mean it the way it sounded. The only thing is you can tell they are enjoying the chaos immensely.

            Next up we have the acrobats. These are the people who drive you nuts with their jumping, bouncing, flipping, and somersault ways. You may be in great shape, but these people make a point of telling you how many steps they took today or the 7-mile hike they took before breakfast. They are also the ones who you never want to go out to lunch with. While you eat your chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, they nibble on tofu concoctions and lettuce that even a rabbit would walk away from hungry. And there are those looks at your plate. Not looks of envy, but more like disgust. You just know they’re going to hurl that tofu at you any moment.

            Now we come to the lion tamers. These guys are probably the nuttiest bunch of them all. What sane person sticks his head into the mouth of a lion? The same question can be asked about the person who takes chances that are profoundly reckless. Maybe they own an Italian made motorcycle that evokes visions of Slim Pickens riding the nuclear missile in “Dr. Strangelove”. They do things that no sane person would ever do. They’re called “adrenalin junkies”.

            Finally, there’s the Master of Ceremonies. These guys are just politicians in disguise. They introduce the acts and give the appearance that they are above the fray. How many times have we seen a press conference where a mayor or governor introduces a wealthy benefactor or a military hero? The politician is hoping that the goodwill towards the benefactor or hero will rub off on him. He may even be hoping that you’ll believe that he is a peer of the benefactor or hero.

            Now, let’s get back to the part about life not being fair. The truth is fairness has nothing to do with life. We live in an existence that is quite simply one of cause and effect. Sometimes we suffer the events of something caused by someone else or some kind of natural event. It certainly doesn’t seem fair to us at the time. It may never seem fair for the rest of our lives. But one only has to wonder how it is fair when they see a report of a tornado that completely destroys a house and kills a family while not causing any damage to a house and family across the street. Here’s a dirty little thought. The loved ones of the those who were killed may be thinking how unfair life is while the family across the street is praising God for being so blessed. There’s something fundamentally disturbing about that. I’m not saying that God doesn’t spare one family and allow another to die. Only He knows the why of things. But the truth is the family that survived should indeed be thankful for being delivered from the storm, but it would be wrong to think that they were somehow or other more worthy of God’s blessing than the family that perished. Think about the two thieves on the crosses on either side of Jesus. They are both guilty. One basically says, “This isn’t fair!” But it was. He was guilty and had to pay for his crime. The other thief admits his guilt and says, “This is fair. It is just.” He also defends Jesus by saying that Jesus had committed no crime or sin and His crucifixion was not fair nor just in any way. He doesn’t ask Jesus to spare him from death on the cross. He simply asks that Jesus remember him when Jesus is in Paradise. Here’s the best part. Jesus tells that thief that he will be with Jesus in Paradise that very day! Guess what? That’s not fair either. It’s far beyond fair. It is a gift purchased by Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. The only catch is you have to ask Him to be in your life and to be your Lord and Savior.

            When I was 18 years old, I had a re-dedication of my life to Jesus. I was inspired to write a song. The song was called “You Just Gotta Believe”. I always liked phrases and words with double meanings. In this case, “gotta” could be construed a couple of different ways. There’s the lesser meaning such as when Will Smith says, “I gotta get me one of these!” while flying the alien spacecraft in “Independence Day”. The more important meaning is that all you have to do to receive eternal life is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to give His life for our sins because nothing we can do can earn that gift.

            So, life isn’t fair. Get over it and do the best that you can with the life that you have. Life is a gift and we should never take it for granted. I’ve known people that have handicaps that I can not imagine living with. Yet they not only live with those handicaps, they thrive. They love life. They may not love their handicap, but they love living. As hard as it may be to do at times, I try to make the best of life. Next time you get to thinking something isn’t fair, then remember that it may well not be “fair”, but you can choose to either make the best of things or you can join the circus. The choice is yours.

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