Several years ago my children went to a party that had a clown who made balloon art. Now, I’m sure that no one can go to college and take classes in balloon art, but this guy had everybody—even the adults—mesmerized with the different things he could make using balloons. As I watched this clown do his thing, I realized that the magic wasn’t found totally in what he made but was also in the skill of the person who made it. I also realized that the clown really, really loved bringing joy to the group.
I CORNERED THE CLOWN AND ASKED SOME QUESTIONS
After the cake came out, the song was sung, the candles blown out, and the hungry hordes were chowing down, I cornered the clown—and asked him questions. I learned some interesting things. First, I was wrong; he did in fact attend “Clown College” in Sarasota, Florida. He has an actual degree in “clown arts” from Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey (the famous circus people). Second, I learned that he can use a balloon to make almost anything that people request. The only thing that slows him down is “difficult balloons that are stiff, not stretchy, and resistant to letting you work with them.”
I asked him what he does when this happens. He quickly responded, “Well, sometimes I have to stretch them, twist them, and wad them up to get them to be more manageable. It may take a while, but I always get the balloon to cooperate. After all, these balloons all have different sizes, shapes, and colors, but this is what they were made for.” I thanked him for his time . . . OK, I also put some money in his clown hat. After all, this clown had shared deep, life-changing, godly wisdom with me.
No matter what size, shape, and color we are, we’re each made for a specific purpose: to glorify God through our lives. There’s nothing particularly special about us, but the One who uses us to reach others is very special. Initially we may be resistant to God. When that happens, He has to stretch us, twist us, and sometimes wad us up to get us to cooperate. In the end He’ll do what it takes to get the job done. God loves, loves, loves to see people get saved. He is willing to use us as His balloons. He fills us with the air of His Holy Spirit, shapes, twists, and molds us to fit the unique and varied needs and requests of others. He’ll do whatever it takes to reach them—and we are the tools He uses.
BALLOONS ARE LIKE CLAY POTS
The prophet Jeremiah, depressed, fearful, and anxious about the people’s negative, and sometimes violent, response to his ministry, pleaded with God, and here’s what God said:
Go to the pottery shop, and when you get there, I will tell you what to say to the people.’ I went there and saw the potter making clay pots on his pottery wheel. And whenever the clay would not take the shape he wanted, he would change his mind and form it into some other shape. Then the Lord told me to say: People of Israel, I, the Lord, have power over you, just as a potter has power over clay. If I threaten to uproot and shatter an evil nation and that nation turns from its evil, I will change my mind. If I promise to make a nation strong, but its people start disobeying me and doing evil, then I will change my mind and not help them at all. So listen to me, people of Judah and Jerusalem! I have decided to strike you with disaster, and I won’t change my mind unless you stop sinning and start living right (Contemporary English Version, Jeremiah 18: 2-11).
God is the potter, and we are the clay. Helping other people and being the “Jesus in their life” isn’t always easy, and the responses we get won’t always be positive. But what’s the alternative? We turn our backs on God and the world, and let everybody miss a relationship with Jesus? Thank goodness that’s not what Jesus did for us.
The apostle Paul had it right when, while defending his ministry to the Corinthian Christians, he said, “I am not anyone’s slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible. When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
When we recognize that without Jesus’ sacrifice we would be eternally lost, we’ll want to be Jesus’ representatives on this earth to bring others to Him and to glorify Him. We’ll want to let God use us; to form and fashion us into whatever shape He wants, in order to save as many of His children as He can. I don’t know about you, but I want to be God’s balloon and be filled with His hot air, rather than my own. I hope that today you’ll decide to do the same.