When you see someone holding a jar of marbles, do you think “Are you losing your marbles?” then laugh? I used to think the same.
Numbering Your Days
Then, a mentor 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 during a military move. My only wish is that I had understood the concept earlier.
While leading a study tour in Israel, an American named Bill stopped to visit his friend, a Jewish rabbi. Walking into his friend’s office, Bill saw a large glass jar partially filled with a rainbow of colored marbles on his desk. He jokingly asked the Rabbi, “What are you doing? Playing marbles with your disciples?”
With a smile, the Rabbi replied, “No” then continued by quoting Psalm 90:12 (KJV) “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Pausing momentarily, the rabbi continued, “After hearing these 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.
God and Marbles
“Each morning I take a marble from this jar and talk with God. ‘Lord, I bless you for this day. Please help me with all the activities planned for today –the meetings, my classes, etc.’ Putting the marble in my pocket I proceed with the day.
“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 patient during the 10 o’clock meeting. I bless You for helping me teach my disciples.’ After praying, I throw the marble away. With each passing day, the level of marbles in the jar slowly decreases giving me a picture – and a reminder — that I’m not getting any more marbles.”
Do you see the same picture? I truly was blown away realizing that I already had squandered many “marbles” in my life – never to get them back. As I continued mulling over this picture, the “blinding flash of the obvious” hit me: based on my “gene pool,” I had less than half of my marbles left! What would I do with my remaining marbles?
I can get more money and things. I can’t get more time. The corollary to this 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 article.)
As a lesson learned, I daily carry a marble in my pocket. When I pull out my keys and see the marble I am reminded, “Be wise in how you use today’s marble – yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t arrived.”
Are you “losing” your marbles or are you “using” them wisely?
The content of this article comes from “A Widower’s Walk: From Desert to Destiny” (2014) and is copyrighted by Daniel F. White, II. Used with permission.