There’s a jar in front of me full of rocks, some large as softballs, others clumping like sand. Perhaps you’ve heard this metaphor before—the jar contains me, the rocks are my time, what I do in life. It’s my task to dump it all out and categorize myself.
Why go through the trouble? For God’s sake. There’s a focus in this metaphor on the rocks, making sure to fill the jar with important rocks first so that there’s time enough to do them. But what about the jar? What is that thing that holds us together, that knows all that we are and do?
To me, God is the jar—he is the reason my time doesn’t scatter in vain
pursuits. I want to serve God with all that I am, so it’s prudent to make sure these activity-rocks bring him glory.
Dumping out the dirt, the first rock to catch my eye is family. Father, mother, three siblings, grandparents… I do spend a lot of time with my blood family, and I think that’s important. God says to honor your parents, and I try to honor them by keeping healthy relationships with them and those dear to them and me. Beyond that, however, there’s my extended family: my church family.
We Christians are the body of Christ, and we must not forsake sharpening each other. In my local congregation, I wear myriad hats, from designing worship services that help us commune with our saviour, to my behind-the-scenes work of bookkeeping, which helps our finances stay in line with God’s vision for us. We pray for each other, serve one another, and in doing so, we honor God. That rock is a gem, so into the jar it goes.
Next comes the rock of education and achievements.
This is a rock of learning, of my yearning to succeed. I must admit, it’s a big rock. I spend much time pursuing perfection, striving to be the best that I can be, to know all that I can know.
This desire used to be a detriment; I wanted to achieve because I thought my worth depended on it. If I didn’t understand something or made a mistake, I was a failure, unlovable to God and society. That burden was why I tried my
absolute hardest. And though I knew that nothing I did would ever be good enough, I still had to try, because being worthless terrified me.
But then I learned that it is God who gives me value. He is why I exist. He made me, claimed me, and if he loves me, who am I to think I’m worthless? My value is because of him, not because of what I can do.
While I still sometimes struggle to believe that lesson, I know it has changed me. I strive for perfection, but not because I will be an unlovable wretch otherwise. Rather, I want to serve my creator as best I can. What better way to thank him for his love than to increase my capacity to work for him? I put the rock in the jar, ready to keep growing for him.
There are myriad more rocks, from music to exercise, from video games to sleep (a rock that really ought to be larger than it is). Even in these things, I want God to be my focus, I want his will to be my goal. But as I dig through this sand, I know not every rock belongs.
There’s a video game I play for hours on end. On my phone when I eat, while I read school textbooks; I sometimes wake up hourly in the middle of the night to take care of one task or another. I can feel it consuming me, my attention fixated on it. It’s not good for me to be so addicted, and I’m certainly not serving God by giving so much of myself and time to this game. With his help, I must chuck that rock to the road.
Though that’s not to say I should give up gaming entirely. Maybe the rock just needs a polish, cutting away at the dull parts to bring forth God’s light hidden within. I must try to glorify God even in a pleasure pursuit. In a different game, I think I do. Amongst that group of players, I’ve been granted the title of “Most Devoted Christian.” In reality, I may be the only Christian in their group, and they’ve noticed. Once, they started to make “religious jokes,” but then they remembered me, commented on how surprised they were that someone like me could “tolerate that bunch of heathens.” Because they liked and respected me, they ended their jests.
It’s a small testimony, but people saw God through me and modified their behaviour because of it. In time, there may be more opportunities to help them see him. That is my hope with all that I do. God is my jar, holding me together. I suspect he may be your jar as well. No matter what we do, we can devote ourselves to serving him with all that we are, keeping each rock polished to reflect his light.