Filling Our Life’s Jar
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
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