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Dump the Rocks Out, Man

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

The illustration is simple: a jar represents our life. Surrounding that jar are rocks of various sizes and shapes, representing a different part of our life (family, friends, relationships, etc.). We start off by putting in the largest rocks, one by one, until every rock is in the jar. Is our jar full? While it would appear to be the case, we take some smaller pebbles representing our work or hobbies and dump them into the jar. The small stones fall into all the little nooks and crannies of the larger rocks, filling in much of the empty space. Now, is the jar full? Again, the jar appears to not have any room left. However, taking some sand representing the much smaller matters of our life and dumping it into the jar soon reveals more space than we thought. The sand fills all the tiny spaces between the rocks and the pebbles all the way through the jar. The jar has to be full, right? Surely, nothing more can fit in that jar after all of the rocks, pebbles, and sand. Not the case. Taking out a cup of water, representing our relationship with God, we pour a small amount into the top of the jar. The water fills the jar the rest of the way until it’s at max capacity. As the illustration presents, our lives are now full.

Out of all of the things put into this illustration, which takes up the most space in our lives? Naturally, the things most important to us, like family and relationships (the biggest rocks), do. Then we fill in the empty spaces of our lives with other things that we enjoy or that matter to us, such as work, hobbies, relaxation, and so on. We put everything into our jar that we can until we think nothing else can fit. Oh, and then we add a little bit of God at the very end to top things off. If we were to separate out all of the rocks, pebbles, sand, and water in the jar, we would soon find a lot less water in the jar than everything else. The point is clear: We can so often put God last in our lives. As a result, we often view God as being a very low priority compared to everything else. Shouldn’t this be the other way around?

In Colossians 1, Paul begins his letter to the church by giving a prayer. He tells the church of the thanksgiving he has for their example of Christian living because they have accepted gospel. Continuing his prayer, he says, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…” (Colossians 1:9-10). The word “filled” here is a word that means completely full—no room left for anything else. Paul’s desire was for God to be the most essential element in their lives. He was to be above everything else, and they were to live in a way that demonstrated this priority. How did these Christians fill their lives entirely with God and His will? They had to dump the rocks out.

Paul’s desire for the Colossian church should be a desire we have as well. As God’s people, He should be our number one priority, right? While we all recognize God’s importance in our lives, do we fill our lives entirely with Him? Think back to the illustration above. For us to fill our lives with God, what do we have to do first? We’ve got to dump the rocks out. If our lives are full of God, there is no room for anything else. However, this means that we must give up those things that we want. We have to put our desires to the side and allow God to take priority. We must give up our self-rule and put God on the throne of our lives. We must make God be the reason for everything we do. This will not always be easy, but God has promised us something so much greater if we do (Colossians 1:5, 12). The final question remains for us all: What will we fill our lives with? As God’s children, our desire should be to fill it with Him and His will for us. It’s in these moments that we must give up the things that we want and “dump the rocks out, man.”

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