We all filed into the conference room and sat patiently waiting for the time management instructor to arrive. There were approximately 100 of us, the “serious” 100, who had elected to take the “full-day/ in depth” time management course instead of the half-day “light” version. The morning session was focused entirely on establishing priorities in life. Three hours and one coffee break later, the point was well established. Without first, clearly defining a compelling priority in your life, you should save the money and not even bother to purchase the “time management program.” Although the instructor did not use the exact illustration that follows, his message, approach and conclusions where virtually identical.
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.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your life 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.”
As I sat there and listened, I realized the lesson was solid in every respect except for one critical area. The time line was too short. The instructor had assumed that human existence only spanned the average of threescore and ten years. His line was infinitely too short. If he had extended the line into eternity, what monumental significance that would have given to his message! I remembered the time management lesson given by the One who created time itself. This is the exact point the Lord Jesus made, on the hillside in Galilee, almost 2000 years ago. Picture for a moment the disciples, likely forming the immediate semi-circle in front of him. Behind the disciples we see a substantial group of people. This message was not given in low tones for a privileged few. Neither was it directed toward a specific group of people who may have been leaving what appeared to be “important” things out of their lives. It was addressed to all. It cut across every social, cultural, and religious barrier. The message comes from the hillside, through 2000 years, past billions of people who have carefully considered these very words, right down to YOU. Have you been filling your brief life (this side of eternity) with “water, sand and gravel?” Family, mortgages and the challenges of our occupation may all seem so significant when viewed from a 24-hour perspective. The Lord Jesus is asking you to view these issues from an eternal perspective. Yes, he is even asking you to “dump the jar out.” In Luke 13:24 He said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Again, in Mark 8:36, He asked, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Have you placed the essential “rock” into your life? If not, hear the all-important message again: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”