By now, most of us have seen or heard the illustration that begins with a person and an empty quart jar. The question this person raises is, “How much will the jar hold?” Then he begins putting golf balls in the jar until they reach the top and asks, “Can any more fit in the jar?” The obvious answer is “No.”
The presenter will then pour BBs into the jar and they begin to make their way around the larger golf balls until no more will fit. After that comes the question, “Is it full now?” It would seem that the answer would be “Yes,” until he starts pouring sand into the jar.
The sand, being smaller, will filter down through the jar with a little shaking until the empty pockets have been filled. And just when you think the demonstration is over, because the jar is surely full, the presenter pours water into the jar.
I have heard two applications made from this illustration. One is that we can usually find a way to do more in our lives, even when we think we have no more time. Another application is that we must put the big objects in the jar before the smaller ones or they would never fit in, thus making a point about priorities.
While these two applications have their merit, I would like to add yet a third to this object lesson. Even though “multi-tasking” seems to be the order of the day, why should we seek to fill every spare moment of our lives? Now, do not misunderstand my point. In no way am I advocating laziness nor am I trying to squash ambition. But what I am observing in a lot of people is that they are perpetually tired and burned-out. Further, they are frustrated because they have no time for things they would really like to do. If this is you, then take note that your body is telling you: “This is not working!”
If you are a part of today’s world you are naturally going to be busy, but we need to achieve a sense of balance. Perhaps one of the best resolutions of the New Year is not to see what else we can get in our “jar,” but to de-clutter and work smarter to be more effective with what we already have.
These words from Paul are worthy of close observation: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV).