One day I was running an errand when, to my surprise and delight, I saw an eagle flying low, circling overhead. It was an awesome sight to see that eagle’s spread-out wings. I would have missed it, if it hadn’t been for a couple out walking, who paused to look overhead. I stopped to see what they were so engrossed in. To my amazement, there was a majestic bald eagle hovering over the neighborhood. I started to think of what else I’d been missing of beauty, in the busy days I live. What gifts of joy and laughter, beauty, friendship, love and peace would have been mine, if I had simply paused to look and see around me?
I used to have on my desk a jar of stones, which were there in part because of the following story, by an anonymous author.
“A man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers, announcing that it was time for a quiz. 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 dozen fist-sized rocks 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, “Is this Jar full?
Everyone in the class said, “Yes”. He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel, pouring the gravel in and shaking the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Once more, he asked the group if the jar was full. By then they had figured out that more could be packed into the jar, and sure enough it wasn’t long before the man added sand, then water to the jar.
After demonstrating how much could fit in the jar, he asked his seminar attenders what the point of his illustration was. One of the group answered immediately, “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.”
I find that I need to keep relearning the same lessons. I need to remember to set my priorities and put first what really needs to be first in my life. I need to be reminded to make room for what is important. Fortunately, God is patiently waiting, when we forget . . . waiting for us to get the big rocks into their proper place.
“Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
A version of this post was previously published as “Getting the Big Rocks in the Right Place” on October 28, 2016