“I need a mason jar, three bouncy balls and a bag of rice.” My husband’s words should have puzzled me, but they didn’t. He was preparing a visual for his youth group- something he has done often the past several years.
My cabinets were full of mason jars; a bag of white rice lay buried in the pantry beneath my newly purchased quinoa; and our eight year old son had a growing collection of bouncy balls. So, I felt certain my husband’s request could be easily met. What I didn’t know was exactly where he was going with this illustration.
As it turned out, the mason jar represented the Christian life. The bouncy balls stood for the most important aspects of that life. First, our relationship with God – continually growing through Bible study (bouncy ball #1) and prayer (bouncy ball #2); and secondly, the relationships we forge with others (bouncy ball #3). The rice was indicative of everything else scrambling for our attention (work, school, household chores, hobbies, activities, church, exercise, and so on).
Initially, my husband used the jar to display a busy life – one in which time with God (and others) does not come to mind until all the small stuff has wiggled its way in. He did this by filling the jar with rice and then trying, unsuccessfully, to add the bouncy balls. It simply would not work. There was no room in the jar for the three balls.
He emptied the jar of its contents and began again.
This time, he depicted a life just as busy as the first, but one in which God was given first priority, followed by our relationships with others. All three bouncy balls fit easily into the jar. The same amount of rice added the first time around was poured, once again, into the jar. Can you guess what happened? The jar held every bit of it. All three balls. Every single piece of rice.
Two separate illustrations using the exact same items. Once, the jar held everything. Once, the jar did not. How is this so? I believe it goes back to what we’re told in Matthew 6:33 (NLT), “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
I don’t know about you, friend, but I’m always grappling to get things done. It seems I never have enough time to do everything that needs doing. But so often, I go at it backwards. Especially on those days when my routine is thrown off. When schedules and appointments and other commitments (rice, rice and more rice) cause me to feel rushed – to believe there’s no room for pausing, opening His word and spending a few unhurried moments in prayer with Him.
But how can I relax, expecting Him to give me all I need, when I continually withhold my heart from Him? When I speed through the day without once inviting Him into it? No wonder I feel stressed and overwhelmed when I’m choosing to carry the full weight of the day on my own two shoulders. It’s much too heavy a load for me to bear.
What about you friend, who’s carrying the pressures of your day? Are you also trying to go at it alone? If so, let’s halt this train we’re riding. Let’s stop it in its tracks. Let’s turn to our Savior and set this weight down at His feet. The feet of Jesus. There’s no better place to leave our burdens than with Him, for He’s the only One capable of carrying what we cannot – should not – carry alone.