There are so many things I want to do in life, and so little time to do it all. There are many different career paths I’d like to take, hobbies and skills I want to learn, places I want to go, and things I want to see and experience. Each day my list of things I want to do is longer than what I can possibly get done.
Because there are so many “good things” that I could spend my time on, I have to be very cognizant of making time for the most important things.
Have you seen the illustration of the jar with pebbles and sand? Imagine that the jar is your life. The biggest rocks are the most important things in life, smaller pebbles are not as important but still very good and beneficial, and the sand is all the extra stuff that fills in the rest. If you pour the sand in first, then you will not have any room for the pebbles and rocks! But if you put the rocks and pebbles in first, then you can pour the sand in afterwards and it will fill in all the gaps.
In other words, it is imperative that I make sure my big rocks are in the jar before I start filling in with sand. The biggest rocks for me are spending time with my family and teaching my children, spending time in God’s Word and prayer, and being part of a church fellowship. Smaller pebbles for me are exercising, cooking healthy meals, adequate sleep, having quiet time each day to reflect and ponder – still very needed in my life, but not as important as the big ones. Then the sand is all the other stuff – tv, facebook, gardening, traveling, reading, hobbies, and so on.
Notice here that the small pebbles and even all the sand particles are still beneficial, good things. I’m not advocating for making room in your life for any unfruitful endeavors or unhealthy leisure activities. Your rocks, pebbles and sand will be different than mine are, and that is fine and good, but all the things we are filling our jar with should be beneficial things. And then out of those good things, we need to prioritize.
This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible. Martha was busy busy busy with “good things”. She was rushing around trying to get some food together to serve Jesus. She had invited him in, so of course she wanted to serve him perhaps some tea and cookies, or maybe even a whole Thanksgiving dinner. It seems noble and good to serve Him some food. He is a guest in her home after all. But sadly, she missed out on the most important thing. Her day ended up being filled with small pebbles and sand, rather than a huge rock of the most important thing – sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Luke 10:38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I can relate to Martha in this story, because each day, there are so many activities clamoring for my attention. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness, and forget the most important things. It’s tempting to turn on my phone and check facebook “just for a few minutes” before reading my Bible (which just happened last week as you can read about right here). But if we spend time on our “sand” first, then what so often happens is that we end up filling up all of our time with sand and leave out the rocks and pebbles of the most important things. Facebook is not wrong to spend time on, but if it is taking the place of the more important things, then it’s got to get out of the jar until the rocks and pebbles are in place.
There are so many wonderful things we can spend our time on in this life. Good things, beautiful things, helpful things, fruitful things. But we must not fill our jar with so much sand that we miss out on the rocks and pebbles. Look at your life and consider your rocks, pebbles, and sand. Does your day reflect that? Are the most important things, the rocks, getting a prime spot in your day? Do you ensure the rocks and pebbles get time in your day, or is the sand filling up so much that you can’t squeeze the rock in?
Prioritize. List out your “to-do’s”. Make sure that the most important things get done before spending time on your not so important ones. Rocks before pebbles, pebbles before sand.
I will never have enough time on this earth to do all that I want to do. Too many places to go, things to do, ideas to explore. But I do have time for the most important things.
Mark 12:28-31: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Be fruitful, healthy, happy. And get those rocks in the jar first.