A young lady enters the circus ring. She steps over to the balancing beam and begins to stretch her arms over her head, holding each pose for a few seconds. She then approaches the beam. Up she hops and after a few seconds of teetering she gains her balance. Gracefully she walks the entire length of the beam and the crowd cheers her performance.
The crowd hushes as the young lady turns and begins to flip through the air, landing back onto the beam with each fluid execution. Amid quiet "ohh's" and "ahh's" of amazement, the acrobat reaches the other end of the beam.
Suddenly, from somewhere in the crowd, a bright purple ball hurtles toward the young lady. No one saw who threw the ball, but our talented young acrobat caught the ball mid-flight and continued her whirling along the beam. Not long after, another ball came flying from the crowd toward the young lady. Then another. The crowd cheered. The acrobat could now do nothing but try to keep her balance as she walked along the beam, juggling the three balls in the air above her.
Inspired, the crowd began throwing bowling pins and tissue streamers at her, expecting her to catch each one and yet remain balanced on the beam. A young man from the second row began chanting for the acrobat to jump and flip in the air while juggling the balls, pins, streamers and other items she carried. The crowd picked up the chant. Fear surfaced on the young acrobat's face. She knew it was impossible. What the crowd expected of her was too much. She couldn't do it.
But the cries grew louder and more insistent. She felt she must, to keep the crowd happy. She was, after all, performing for them. And so, she attempted the impossible. To fly through the air while juggling everything the crowd had tossed her way and land on her feet.
Immediate silence fell while the crowd watched in horror as the young acrobat stumbled and slipped from the beam. One by one, they began to file out of the circus tent, looking for something more exhilarating to watch. The young acrobat was left sitting on the ground in center ring, trying to pick up all the scattered items that fell with her. Tears streamed down her face as she contemplated her failure. Maybe she should have tried harder. Maybe if she had practiced more she could have done it. Maybe....maybe...
And then the Ringmaster entered the ring and walked over to where she sat. He knelt down in front of her and lifted her eyes to His.
"You weren't supposed to perform for the crowd," He gently stated. "You were performing for me. You were to carry out the task I gave you. When you began catching everything the crowd threw at you and started listening to what their standards were for your act, you fell. You can never please the crowd. They will always want more from you than you are able to give."
The Ringmaster took the acrobat's hand and lifted her to her feet. Together they walked out of the ring, leaving behind all the expectations of the crowd. The acrobat knew that she could do what the Ringmaster gave her to do. He would never give her more than she could handle. He would never expect her to balance everything like the crowd had asked. And her simple performance would please Him.