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Spiritual matters

Make good use of the time God has given you

November 17, 2010 - It has certainly been a beautiful fall in Clarkston and I am very thankful to God for it! It has also been a very busy time for most people I know. It seems like we try to pack more and more into the time we have. Of course even with all of the advances in technology, and with all of those "time-saving" devices, time still moves along according to God's original design. There is still 60 minutes in each hour, 24 hours in a day, and 365 days a year. And of course each of us has only so many of those minutes, hours and days this side of heaven. We have not figured out a way to make more time, so we are left with the ongoing challenge of making good use of the time God has given us.

I heard somewhere about a presenter at a seminar who placed a glass jar on a table and carefully filled it with some large rocks. The presenter then asked, "Is the jar full?" The students responded, "Yes!" Next he took some gravel and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks, and again asked, "Is the jar full?" Being quick learners, the students replied "Probably not." Then the presenter dumped some sand into the jar filling in the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once again he asked "Is the jar full?" "No!" the students all said. Finally, he filled the jar completely with water and asked the students what they had learned from the illustration. Someone answered, "If you try really hard you can always fit more things into your life." The presenter replied, "No, the point is this, if you don't put the big rocks in first there will never be room for you to fit them into your life."

I believe this principle can be applied to all aspects of life. The fundamental question for each of us is: "What are the big rocks? What are the most important things in life and have I made room for them first? Or do these 'big rocks' get edged out by all the busyness in life?" This is very worth thinking and praying about.

However it is also interesting to think about the jar itself – our lives. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah (Is. 64:8) proclaims, "O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." This passage affirms that God in love has made us and gifted us with life. And Paul, reflecting on the gift of life with Jesus in the New Testament (2 Cor. 4:7) reminds us that, "We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." For me all of this is an important reminder that the biggest rock I place in the jar is my relationship with God, and that even the "jar" (my life) itself is a gift from God. I know I need to always be aware of this as I fill my busy life with many things.

The good news is that we are not left on our own to just figure this out by ourselves. For God desires a relationship with us each and every day, no matter where we are, to guide us in keeping our priorities the way he intends – which is in a healthy life-giving balance. When life gets hard, and it does for all of us, I often turn to the words from the prophet Isaiah (Is. 40:30-31) for encouragement, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." This is good news as we approach the busy holiday season and try to live out God's purpose and priorities.

The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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