|“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:6-8|
Have you ever done that time management exercise where you take a bunch of stuff and try to cram it into a jar? You have some big rocks, some pebbles, some sand, and some water. The goal is to get as many things into the jar as possible — but the trick is to put the BIG STUFF in first.
If you put the water in and then the sand and then the pebbles and then the rocks it won’t work very well. However, if you put in the rocks, and then the pebbles, (give it a little shake-shake-shake) and then the sand and finally the water . . . the water runs down into the crevices and you can fit it all in.
I’ve been thinking about this analogy a lot these past few weeks while trying to adjust to the massive changes in every area of my life during the COVID-19 pandemic. “What are the big rocks for today?” I think. Not just in terms of time management, but in terms of “what really matters here?” What is the very essence of being The Church? What are the parts of being a mother and pastor and wife and leader that are absolutely essential? What are the components of being a parent, partner, friend, human that I cannot let slip?
I feel like I’m doing pretty good these days if I can identify and hold on two a couple of the BIG ROCKS. I’m mostly letting the pebbles, sand, and water fall completely off my radar screen.
My friends, this is a time for focusing on essentials. For the Church that looks like loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. For what has the Lord commanded of us? To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. Following Christ’s Greatest Commandment (Loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves) looks different when the circumstances change, but the commandment stays steady. It’s the BIG ROCK of our faith.
In the midst of all these changes, I want to assure you that your Bethel Methodist pastors, staff, and leaders have continued to work steadily behind the scenes. We are continually seeking clarity around how we can spend our limited time and energy in the midst of a crisis. We are asking: What are the “BIG ROCKS” for Bethel UMC?What are the values that guide us?How can we safely to work together to stay spiritually connected while socially distanced?What are the most critically important parts of our shared ministry that are absolutely essential?And so I invite you to set aside 15-20 minutes sometime this week to have that BIG ROCKS chat with yourself and with God. Light a candle, center your breath. Find a quiet space where you can connect with God. And then start to think through the different roles you play in your life….your identity with family and friends, your professional or volunteer work.
Don’t forget to make space for pondering what is means to be human and a Beloved Child of God. And then sit with God and ask for some clarity as you try to discern what the BIG ROCKS are. What are the absolute essentials? Write them down, tuck them away where you can find them later, and revise as needed. But when you start to feel overwhelmed or like there’s not quite enough of you to go around, go back to the BIG ROCKS. Focus on only those. And know that God goes with you – sustaining you when you’re weary, picking you up off the floor when you have to get back up, showing you so much gentle grace when things don’t go as planned. You are not alone. You continue to do this very hard work of being human with God’s help, God’s grace, God’s love coursing through your veins. In Faith,Rev. Julie Belman