Jar of Marbles (LwL #1)

Hello and welcome aboard.

Likely you’ve noticed the marbles on this website – and I hope it’s not an indicator that I’ve lost mine! A mentor, Rev. Ray Vander Laan (www.followtherabbi.com), shared a story about a jar of marbles that challenged my perspective on life, particularly after witnessing the deaths of my pregnant wife and five-year old son in an accident. My only wish is that I had understood the concept earlier.

While leading a study tour in Israel, Ray stopped to visit a rabbi, a friend of his. Walking into his friend’s office he saw a humongous, beautiful glass jar partially filled with an amazing rainbow of marbles sitting on the rabbi’s desk. In jest, he asked the rabbi, “What are you doing? Playing marbles with your disciples?”

The rabbi smiled and said, “No,” and then quoted Psalm 90:12 (KJV) “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

The rabbi paused and continued, “After hearing those words, I wanted to have a picture of what ‘numbering my days’ meant. Mulling over the thought, I considered my family tree and how long my grandparents and great-grandparents had lived. Taking a calculated guess on my life expectancy, I determined how many days I already had lived.  I then estimated how many days I had left and bought that number of marbles and this jar.

“Each morning I take a marble from this jar and talk with God.  ‘Lord, I bless you for this day.  Please help me to honor you. Please guide me as I meet with Mr. Smith, as he can be difficult to work with. Help my words to honor you while teaching my disciples.’ I put the marble in my pocket and proceed with the day as planned.

“At the end of the day, I take the marble out and have a ‘debriefing’ time with God; ‘Lord I bless you for your help today. Please forgive me for not being loving, like you, toward Mr. Smith. I bless you for helping me instruct my disciples.’ After praying, I throw the marble away. Day by day, the level of marbles in the jar decreases, giving me a picture – and a reminder — that I’m not getting any more marbles or days in my life.”

RVL paused and asked if we saw the picture. I truly was stunned at “seeing the picture” — and realizing I already had squandered many, many marbles – never to get them back. As I continued mulling over that picture, the “blinding flash of the obvious” hit me: Based on my “gene pool,” I had less than half of my total days worth of marbles left! What would I do with what was left? I could get more money. I could get more things. I can’t get more time (or more “marbles”). The corollary to that thought struck me: the most precious gift anyone can give is his or her time!  (So “Thank you” for sharing your time and reading this blog.)

I now carry a marble in my pocket every day. Each time I reach to get my keys, I’m reminded to “Be wise in how you use today’s marble – yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t arrived.”

So are you “losing” your marbles or are you “using” them wisely?

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