In a philosophy class, the professor stood before his students with a large jar. He filled the jar with five large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full. The students said, “yes, it sure is.” He poured pebbles in the jar and lightly shook it until the pebbles filled in all the open areas between the rocks. He asked, “how about now?” The students said it was full. The professor then poured sand into the jar and the sand filled in the tiny spaces between the rocks and the pebbles. See, the jar represents all that is in one’s life. The rocks are the most important things: God, family, health, etc. The pebbles represent the things in life that matter, but we could live without. The pebbles are certainly things that give our lives meaning (hobbies, friendships, etc.); but they are not critical for us to have a meaningful life. These things often come and go, and are not essential to our overall well-being. Finally, the sand represents the remaining tiny things in our lives, such as material possessions, watching television or doing errands. These things don't mean much to our lives as a whole, and are likely only done to waste time or get small tasks accomplished.
So, what happens if we put the sand and pebbles in first? Will we have room for the rocks? No. We cannot fill our lives with all the “pebbles” and “sand’ and expect our lives to have room from all the more important things in life, such as faith, family and good health. In other words, we cannot pursue both God’s will and our own independent will. We have to empty ourselves of one in order to fully embrace the other. When our hearts are surrendered and trusting in God, our desires will align with God’s and our joy will be made full. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”