Whenever I am driving between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.,I have always enjoyed the program, "Candlelight and Wine" on weeknights on 98.1 FM. Although I seldom listen to it now, I had the privilege Friday evening, while driving home from Barrie after a Christmas shopping marathon.
I relaxed as the easy-listening music softly filled the suburban and the glistening snow sparkled from the streetlights. Soon, Don Jackson's deep, soothing voice began sharing a story.
Expectant now, I turned up the volume. I knew I was in for a treat -this is the part of the program that has always resonated so deeply with me.
Don Jackson talked about a professor of philosophy who was demonstrating a life-principle to his class.
The Professor carefully filled a large glass jar with rocks. When he could get no more rocks in the jar, he asked the class if it was full. They responded "yes".
He said, "Not so", as he reached down under his lectern and then proceeded to fill the jar with gravel. When the jar could hold no more, he asked his students if it was full. The students were slower to respond this time. One bright young man said, "Probably not."
"Right you are", encouraged the Professor as he reached down and snatched another pail. This time he began to fill the jar with sand. When no more sand could be poured into the jar, the Professor once again looked at his class and asked, "Is the jar now full?"
The class, catching on to the Professor's illustration, responded, "No". The Professor reached down for the last time and pulled out a jug of water. He then poured the water into the jar until there was no more room. He sealed the lid and told the class that the jar was now full. He stood it on a table at the front of the class and asked them, "What would happen if we put the water, sand, and gravel in before the rocks?
The students wisely discerned that it would be hard to fit in the rocks. They concluded that very few rocks would fit if you filled the jar in the reverse order.
The professor affirmed his students. You are right and so it is with life.
He shared that the rocks represent the important things in our life. We are to put them in the jar first. He suggested these might be family, friends, health, education, employment, dreams, goals but... he encouraged,
"The rocks are yours...you choose what rocks go into your jar."
In the silence that ensued before he went on, I thought about our Lord and His love and His grace and the plans He has for my life....for your life. What rocks would my King, Saviour, and Lord have me - or you - put in our jars?
Don Jackson went on with the story.
The Professor explained to his class that the gravel, sand, and water represents the nitty gritty in our lives. The stuff that we get so busy doing and consumes so much of our time but should never crowd out what is really important in our lives.
We must put our rocks in first. It is necessary to determine to spend the majority of our time on the rocks in our lives, not with the nitty gritty.
I thought about my nitty gritty - housecleaning, making meals, dressing myself and the children,shovelling snow, laundry, fixing hair, tidying, organizing, groceries... and the list goes on.
There are so many tasks, so many necessary nitty gritty that fills my days.
And yet there are the truly important - seeking...longing...listening to my Father's heart... training little hearts to know His heart...loving the one God gave me,he whose flesh is one with mine...using my gifts to build up His body-the universal church...and sitting at His feet like Mary - longing...listening...waiting...being still before the one who created me.
What delight! What joy! What blessing comes... as we sit at Jesus' feet as Mary did!
And the temptation is to be so busy doing the nitty gritty - like Martha. What Martha chose was not wrong. To make a meal for Jesus was a good thing, perhaps a necessary thing.
Our "nitty gritty" is necessary too.
But where is our heart?
Martha's heart was resenting Mary, because she chose to sit at Jesus' feet and she was doing the supper preparations by herself. She was feeling sorry for herself. The "poor me" syndrome.
In contrast, Mary's heart was still... expectant...seeking...waiting...enjoying her precious Jesus - the one who was most important of all.
Out of many choices, she chose most wisely.
Oh to be like Mary!
To make the best choice over many good choices.
Oh I long to be like Mary...
I am too often a Martha, too often do I resent doing the "nitty gritty" and my heart is that of Martha's.
Forgive me Lord. Create in me a clean heart Oh God, renew a steadfast spirit in me.
Oh Lord, loving Father, Help me to choose the rocks.
I cry with the psalmist,
Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways. Establish Thy word to Thy servant, As that which produces reverence for Thee. Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Thine ordinances are good. Behold I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy Righteousness. Psalm 119: 35-40. NASV
In the midst of this Christmas chaos, may we all find your peace. May we have the heart of Mary in this Martha world.