Keith Wishum: When your bowl runs over

Published 7:00 am Sunday, January 8, 2017

My bowl runneth over. Not my cup. That’s true, too, but that’s another story. Right now, it’s my bowl that is running over.
Life is a bowl of potatoes! It’s a full bowl, but I try to pack some more potatoes into it. The result is a mess. I can’t get the new potatoes in, and I’m forcing some of the old ones to spill out of the bowl.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, compares life to filling a bowl. He uses pebbles and large rocks for his illustration, but I like potatoes much better than rocks. (Have you ever fried a rock?) The point is that, if you fill the bowl (your schedule) with small things and then try to add the more important things, something gets squeezed out. The result is stress. Sound familiar?
You’ve got a day already packed to the brim – work, the kid’s little league, piano lessons, two loads of laundry, cooking dinner (OK, picking dinner up at the drive through), an evening college class, and the dripping faucet that needs to be repaired. No spare minute anywhere.
Then, some pesky preacher suggests that you find time to pray. Or meditate. Or introduce yourself to that other person racing around your house – the one who helped produce your children. The nagging in your conscience tells you the pesky preacher is right, but the bowl is already full! How can you possibly squeeze anything else in?
Covey’s solution? Choose the big potatoes first. Fill around them with the small potatoes. The important things will go in more easily, and you’ll even fit in more of the lesser ones.
No offense to Covey, but Jesus said it first. When one very harried lady complained about her sister not helping in the kitchen with the potatoes, Jesus reminded her that meal preparation really was small potatoes.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”(Luke 10:41-42). Just one thing is needed!
If you see me trying to pack too many events into my calendar, do me a favor. Gently remind me that only one thing – my relationship with the Lord – really matters. The rest is small potatoes. If you’ll remind me, I’ll try to remind you.

A Word from Williams Road is provided by the Williams Road Church.