The Jar of Life

May 9, 2022

Have you ever thought there aren’t enough hours in a day, enough money for the days of the month, or just felt overwhelmed by the complexity of life? Who hasn’t? To help people find the important answers to how to live life victoriously Jesus told parables. Simple stories that revealed deep truths about the Kingdom of God and what is important in life. Perhaps you have heard this modern day parable called the “Jar of Life.” It has numerous versions. For my purposes I’m going to tell it this way.

A pastor placed a basket of stuff on the table in front of the Sunday School class. He pulled out a big mason jar and started filling the jar with rocks the size of his fist. When the jar was full he asked if the jar was full? Everyone in the class said it was. Then he said, “Really?”

He reached into his basket and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

Then he pulled out a bucket of sand and started pouring the sand in while everyone watched the sand fill all the spaces. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!”

Then he grabbed a pitcher of coffee and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!" Our modern parable may end here because this is the way most people live their lives. Whoever stuffs the most stuff into their lives looks busiest and that person wins! What they win no one is quite sure.

The pastor asked, “Why did I fill the jar with coffee? Someone offered, “No matter how full your life is there should always be time for some coffee with friends, since life is all about relationships.” Everyone nodded in agreement. The pastor reminded them of some of the many scriptures that drive home this point like I Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

The pastor offers that the “Jar of Life” teaches us that if we don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all." So the question we are supposed to ask is “What are the “Big Rocks” in your life?” The pastor asked the class to start writing down the “Big Rocks” in their life. I hope you will too. Perhaps you would put God first. Then time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances, a cause, or a dream? Remember, to put these “Big Rocks” first you have to have a plan. Otherwise, you’ll just fill the jar with all the other stuff in life and just be busy.

One student said, “I wrote down my list, but I’ve seen it before. I know the “Big Things” the “Big Rock” represent, but it just never seems to work out. I want to spend more time in prayer, but the time just seems to vanish. I want to spend more time with my spouse and kids, but we don’t even seem to have time to make plans. Even God doesn’t seem to get as much of me as I would like! I always make a note that His rock is supposed to be the biggest.”

The pastor responded, “That is your problem. God can’t be a rock. If you are going to have the victory in the “Jar of Life” you have to see life in such a way that you see God as the mason jar. Then God can hold the whole thing together. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:33, ‘But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ If we trust God with our lives, He will show us how to have the victory in the “Jar of Life.”

What are your “Big Rocks”? How do you let God hold it all together? What changes do you need to make to let God help you to have the victory?