Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lessons From a Mason Jar and Rocks

"There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven: A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knowcking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing. A time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for discarding. A time for tearing a time for sewing; a time for keeping silent, a time for speaking. A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace." -- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Something I struggle with, as I'm sure do most of us, is using my time to it's fullest. What is most important? I read the following story and love how it puts that problem into focus.

One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and professionals. To drive home a point, he used an illustration I’m sure those students and professionals will never forget. After I share it with you, I hope you’ll never forget it either.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers, he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a half dozen rocks that just fit through the jar’s mouth and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked the class “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it.”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point.” The truth this illustration teaches us is: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the “big rocks” in your life? The goals of your life that YOU want to accomplish? To gain the eternal joys of Heaven, to daily walk with God, to be faithful in church attendance and reception of the sacraments, to build a strong family life by time and dedication, to be unselfish, to give and be kind to your loved ones, to be responsible in your job? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself these questions: What are the “big rocks” in my life? What are my priorities? Are they the correct priorities? Do those priorities fulfill the great purpose of why God made me — to know Him, love Him, serve Him and to be with Him forever in the next life? Those are the Big Rocks; put them first into your jar of life!

Dear Lord, we pray that we would use the time that You give us wisely. Help us to make wise decisions as we choose which are the "Big Rocks".

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