by Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
One of my favorite illustrations starts with a sizable jar overflowing with large valuable rocks, each lined with quartz and various crystals. It is fairly obvious that no other large precious rocks could possibly fit in the jar. When asked if the jar is full, the audience is quick to reply, “YES!”. But from under the table, a bucket of gravel appears and when poured into the jar, fills in all of the open spaces between the larger rocks. Now when the audience is asked if the jar is full, the wary response is, “…maybe?”. A bucket of sand makes its appearance next, proving once again that space still remains between the gravel, as a surprisingly large amount of sand is added to the jar. The audience knows the question that is coming, and interrupts yelling, “It’s not full!” Finally, a bucket of water concludes the demonstration, as close to a gallon fits into the jar before it overflows. The illustration has many clever principles, including some fascinating scientific truths. But perhaps most significant is the order in which the jar is filled. If any single component fills the jar before the large rocks, not a single precious stone can fit in the crowded container.
The days, weeks, months, and years of our lives are each empty jars. And each of us has an often growing list of large precious “rocks” that are valuable to each one of us. But there is only so much room for work, play, and relationships in the finite boundary of time that we live in. During the month of December there are certainly more “minerals” vying for a spot in your life’s “container” than space allows. Without a life driven by clear priorities and strategic decisions, we can often find our life’s jar full of sand and gravel, with absolutely no room for the very people or projects that should be the anchors in our lives.
As superintendent of a school growing with students, staff, and facilities, this particular illustration is not the easiest to apply. In addition to a full career, there are other areas of our lives that seemingly require a myopic focus. When led by our flesh, we often default to give attention to the items that are in the public eye. Our inner lives and our most important family relationships inevitably suffer. In Matthew 23, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for getting their lives entirely out of order. They had legalistically placed greatest emphasis on minor details that were in the public eye, but their hearts had fallen far from what mattered most.
There are plenty of molecules of water, grains of sand, and pieces of gravel that can fit into our life’s jar. As they are small in size, the represent a small commitment of our available time. But this Christmas season and into the new year, may we each prayerfully reflect on the precious priorities God has placed in our lives and truly make them fit first. Then we can allow the hand of God to do the miraculous as He fills in the empty spaces in His timing.
– Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
by Molly Dillon / Keizer Campus Principal
A few years ago I found myself one week away from Christmas, in a bit of a panic. I realized that in the business of the season I had forgotten the Christmas cards for our East Coast relatives. To stay connected to these far away loved ones, each year I create a special Christmas photo card, add school pictures, and a personalized Christmas greeting. To quickly rectify this oversight, my husband ran to the store and purchased cards, addressed each envelope, and created an assembly line for all of us to sign each store-bought greeting. All I needed to do was to sign the cards, place them in their envelopes, and drop them in the mail.
Amongst a whirlwind of activity, I managed to post the cards and move on to the next task. I figured some would be disappointed, but what I wasn’t expecting were the rumors and questions that arose amongst the family regarding the state of my marriage. Apparently, they jumped to some understandable conclusions. Not only did they receive a generic card with no photos, they were only signed by my husband and children, I had forgotten. Instead of a lovely Christmas message, they received a message of confusion.
The joy of remembrance is at the heart of Christmas, and we have been given a precious span of time each year to renew, celebrate and share the hope we have found in Jesus. There are many who are standing on the outside of Christmas, viewing and wondering, waiting for someone to welcome them in, or simply remember them. They need to know what Ann Voskamp shares in her book “The Greatest Gift”, that “Christmas cannot be bought, it can only be found.” It is not stored away with the ornaments, it is stored in our hearts, and during the Christmas season, above all else, we must remember to prepare our hearts and lives to share the good news.
Like Mary, we must ponder in our hearts the things of God “for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49). Like Joseph, we must trust God’s plan for our future. Like the Shepherds, we must break from our daily lives to “spread the word concerning what had been told about this child.” (Luke 2:17). Like the Wise Men, we must seek Christ, worshiping and offering our own unique gifts to honor Him. Like the Angels, we must proclaim “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14). Everything we need to truly celebrate Christmas is wrapped up in the beautiful gift of the Christmas story.
As I learned that year, forgetting to properly prepare my heart and life for Christmas had consequences. Although I was easily able to explain my way out of that awkward situation, I missed the opportunity to share the greatest gift of Christmas, even if it was simply tucked away in a greeting. Instead of prioritizing schedules and lists I now prioritize the Christmas story, allowing it to draw me even closer in my relationship with Christ, and inspire me to remember those who desperately need the gift of Christmas.
– Molly Dillon / Keizer Campus Principal