Well, one more week and the Christmas celebration will be over. This season seems to come and go so fast. There are times when I hear people talking about how much they need to do and feeling so overwhelmed with responsibilities. It made me think about the story of the professor telling his students about getting the big things done first. This is how the story goes.
The professor took a large container and filled it with stones and asked the students if it was full. They all agreed it was full. Professor said, looks that way but not yet, he then took some gravel and poured it in, and it sifted down between the rocks, and once again it looked full, all the students agreed. Not yet the professor said. He then took some sand and poured it in, and it sifted down between the rocks and gravel, and once again it looked full, they all agreed. Again, not yet the professor said. He then took some water and poured it in, and it filled the container, and now the professor agreed with the students that it was indeed full this time.
If you fill the container with water first, there is no room for the sand, the gravel or the rocks. The moral of the story is you need to take care of the big things first then there is time to fit in all the little things. I love this explanation, it makes it clear how to handle your time. If I think of the stones as the important things in my life, and the gravel, sand, and water as the less important things in my life, then it became clear to me that if I didn’t do the important things first, I would not have time to do them later. My time would be all filled with less important tasks.
So, I had to decide, what is the most important thing in my life? It’s not my family or job, it is ME. Now does that sound selfish? Maybe, but it’s NOT! It is the most unselfish thing I can do. If I don’t take care of me first how will I take care of my family or job? The airlines have it right when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first, so you are well enough to care of the others.
Now I needed to decide what me things are most important. Is it shopping for Christmas presents? How about planning and preparing for a Christmas Party? No, these are not about me. I need to keep myself awake to the good things. Jesus said in Matt. 6.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? …for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
That is sure a mouth full. If food, drink, and clothes are not the big stones, then what is? Jesus said it is to “seek ye first the kingdom of God.” That’s the big stone, then all the gravel, sand and water will take care of itself. He will lay a path before you to accomplish all the little things. You just need to listen. Remember we only take care of one day at a time. Jesus said, “take no thought for the morrow.”
My job is to keep my thought clear of all the distractions that would muddle my thinking. Things that would make me feel depressed or overwhelmed with business. How do I do that? Well, I take time every day, usually in the morning, and sit quietly and clear my thought and get me out of the way and listen. This is my big stone. As I sit there my day starts to form before me. I know exactly what I need to do, and in what order. These are the gravel, sand, and water. When I start my day this way, I stay calm and happy. Getting close to God can’t help but make your day better.
When I give myself this gift of a calm and happy day, it allows me to share this gift with others around me. So, by taking care of myself first, I’m able to bring joy to others. This is what Christmas is about, Love and Joy. We can love our neighbor best by taking care of ourselves first. Go out and share the gift of Love, and enjoy your holidays.