Put the big rocks in the jar first, goes the illustration, and you’ll have room to pour in the little rocks afterward. Put the little rocks in first, however, and you won’t fit the big rocks. It’s a metaphor for priorities.
It’s funny how small those big rocks can be. Making your bed. Folding the napkins. Doing the dishes. Greeting your spouse. Looking your child in the eye while smiling.
These are all little things and rarely urgent, yet when they happen the whole day is lifted up. The stage is set for something more than mere survival. When they don’t happen every now and then, no harm is done. When they don’t happen as a pattern, their importance becomes plainer.
I’ve often thought of a given day’s tasks as points on an intricate connect-the-dots pattern. The dots are tiny. You can skip some and still make out the picture; but they’re not exactly expendable.
This analogy has a double-edged use. First, it reminds me that many little, unspectacular daily acts make a lifetime difference. Yes, the dishes can wait, but if I make them wait every time, it’s a ding on the evening; it’s another wrinkle in the morning. If I made a flip book of daily pictures of the kitchen counter, would the movie show peace or pile-up? If my daughter made a flip book from our morning interactions, would the movie show closeness or coldness?
Too often pile-up and coldness have marked my days. That’s when I appreciate the other side of this connect-the-dots concept. “His mercies are new every morning.” This morning is a new dot. The Lord is not calling me to finish the whole picture, but rather to be faithful with the little things before me today. Over time, those little things make something beautiful.
This post came to mind after reading this reflection from Amy Young. Thank you, Amy.
"What you do—the conversations you have, the games you play, the emails you write, the projects you work on, the loads of laundry you do—are the strands of life that when woven together build into something larger than the fleeting moments they represent.
So I turn to you and say, 'Just because something looks to be fleeting or eternal, that’s not the full picture.'"