What can you hear from where you are right now? I can hear one of my children playing Quidditch (on the Playstation) and the other watching TV. I can hear the click clack of my fingers hitting the keys of my keyboard as I type. I can hear the ticking of a clock I was given when I left Didcot. I can hear the washing machine turning relentlessly in a vain effort to keep up with the unstoppable flow of dirty clothes generated by this family. I can hear the creaking of the chair on which I am sitting. I can almost hear the cogs turning slowly in my head as I try to kick start my brain for the day ahead.
I don’t often stop like that and listen. It is an interesting exercise because now I am very much aware of all of the activity around me. While I am shut in my study, seemingly isolated from the rest of the world, there is activity all around me: I am not alone.
It’s a helpful reminder to me that I am never alone. I have God’s Spirit with me always – guiding, encouraging, prompting, nurturing, wooing, blessing, enlightening, challenging, informing, inspiring, giving, braking, loving, reassuring, growing, speaking, listening, cultivating, empowering, filling, answering, refreshing, exploring, amusing, provoking, leading, wondering, accompanying, suffering, sharing, reminding, interpreting, guarding, strengthening, breathing, acting, humouring… it’s a good thing he doesn’t get tired!
I have sometimes used an illustration where I take a large jar and put marbles in it representing different aspects of our lives (eating, sleeping, watching TV, school, work…) until the jar is full. When people agree that the jar is full I take a jug of water and pour it into the jar. It fills the gaps and surrounds all the marbles. There is space for a lot of water. I suggest that this is what God wants to do in our lives, to be involved in every aspect of what we say and do. This is similar to the following wise words:
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2″ in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The students laughed. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.”
“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
A student then took the jar which the other students and the professor agreed was full, and proceeded to pour in a glass of beer. Of course the beer filled the remaining spaces within the jar making the jar truly full.
The moral of this tale is:
– that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for BEER