Many of us have heard the story of the filling jar. The teacher challenges the student to fit an entire assortment of rocks, some large but most small, into the jar. Initially, the student tries a rather random approach of dropping the rocks into the container. With this method there are sundry rocks remaining. Next the teacher demonstrates that all the rocks will fit if he deposits the big rocks first.
Nice. And that’s the problem. It’s too nice and neat. My intent is not to be critical of the story, which serves as a little homily: focus on the top priorities and everything falls into place. Naturally, analogies break down, but still the neatness chafes on me. After all, the only thing required in this illustration is to choose the right order, and then everything fits. I would much prefer the story if there were still rocks left over.
For me, it’s endless choices that characterize my life. What will I do? What will I not do? What are my values? Some things scream out as the big rocks, as the most important, but others are more ambiguously sized. Is it important that I clean out my closet, wash my car, or rescue a dog from a shelter? Well, if that’s all I had on my plate, sure. As it is, I decide that a clean closet and car are not in my agenda for the near future. We remain pet-less. They are rocks that lay on the table, neglected and waiting. And that’s the way it will always be—there will be rocks of assorted sizes on the table. You can’t do it all. You can’t have it all.
In my eyes some people are running around after what they deem “big” rocks while I view them as trivial. I suspect that others are equally perplexed by what I consider essential. As one who chafes against the cultural norms, I am continually seeking to align my values by what I perceive as God’s leading and not the “American dream.” Still when I examine closer, I can find subtle influences that affect my attitude, causing me to question my choices. Back to the Word and His presence I must turn. No wonder I love the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Well-meaning people often say, “Oh, you must be so busy with four kids.” At times I reply, “Not really.” The truth is that I leave a lot of rocks on the table.
Having many choices is both our challenge and privilege. Those in abject poverty have “no choices” as they are constrained by one big rock—survival. As a result, some of the rocks that we leave out in are home are material in natural. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Live simply that others may simply live.”
No, we don’t go out to eat as much as other families. My kids notice that and other differences in our spending. It’s a continual evaluation to know the right way to go in finances, balancing various needs, and I have no formula. All I know is that with our choices comes the privilege of being able to give to those without choices. It takes only one of our small rocks to help with their big rock.
For some time I prayed for God to show us the best place to give that would help the poorest of the poor. One of God’s biggest gifts to us last year was the answer to that prayer. Seeing Compassion at work first-hand won our hearts. As a result of their outreach, working out of local churches, children are being released from their economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty. It is a long-term approach with extraordinary results. Because I am not easily impressed, you can be assured it took nothing less than seeing the wonder of God’s hand at work to make me a fervent promoter of this ministry. Compassion rocks.
What’s left undone, what’s left not spent, can change a life forever. Sponsorship of a child is just $38 per month. Will you join us?