Filling the Jar

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

A brief announcement before I get into today’s post. Fancy is now available in paperback at Now both of my books are available for Nook or Kindle or in paperback. Click “Books” above and look at each.


My wife sent me an email with a powerful video that illustrated an important truth about life. I had received it before, but for some reason it didn’t strike me with the same impact it did today. I’m going to add slightly to what the video said, but this is basically how it went.

A philosophy professor stood in front of his class the first day holding a large, empty pickle jar.


Next, he produced a number of golf balls and began putting them into the jar until it would hold no more.


He then asked the class if the jar was full. They all agreed it was.

He reached down and brought up a container of pebbles and began dropping them into the jar. The pebbles worked their way into the empty spaces among the golf balls.


When he could get no more pebbles into the jar, he held it up and asked again if it was full. Again, the class agreed that it was.

Next, he produced a container of sand and began pouring it into the jar. Of course, the sand worked its way into spaces between pebbles.


Once again, he asked the class if the jar was full. This time, they were sure he couldn’t get anything else into the jar.

To everyone’s surprise, he pulled a jar of chocolate milk out of his desk drawer and poured it into the jar. It worked its way through the sand, the pebbles and the golf balls and began filling the jar.


Then he told them this represented their lives. The golf balls represented the most important things in life: one’s relationship with God, one’s spouse, one’s family, one’s friends, and one’s health. Like the golf balls, these must come first in our lives.

The pebbles represent the next most important things that matter, such as your job, your home and your car. These must fill in after the more important things.

The sand is the small stuff. He explained the importance of putting the items in the jar in the right order. If he’d put the pebbles in first, there would have been no room for the golf balls. If he’d put in the sand first, there would have been no room for either the golf balls or the pebbles.

As with his illustration, if we fill our lives with sand or pebbles, we won’t have room left for the golf balls. The most important things in our lives will be overlooked in our pursuit of less important things.

When he finished his explanation, one student raised his hand and asked what the significance of the chocolate milk was. A huge grin crept over the professor’s face as he answered.

“No matter how busy you are, there’s always room for chocolate.” From what I see on Twitter profiles, I think most of my writer friends would agree with this last statement.

How about your life? Do you fill it with golf balls first, or do you let the pebbles and the sand get in the way?


Illustrations courtesy of


For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx


About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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12 Responses to Filling the Jar

  1. Barbara Estinson says:

    I’ve read this story before too, but it wasn’t with the video, which is nicely effective. Great analogy, and I like your writing about it. And hey, too bad you don’t like dark chocolate … it’s my favorite. Sharon can eat your milk chocolate, and I’ll eat your dark chocolate for you.


  2. denisedyoung says:

    Love this, David. I think I spend too much time worrying about the pebbles–mostly work, money, etc. This year, though, since I’ve faced some health struggles, I’ve really forced myself to reevaluate my priorities. I agree that family, health, love–those things should be given top priority. Last night, I even crafted my personal mission statement, and family/friends was the first thing I added, followed by enjoying/exploring the world, embracing life, and seeking out new knowledge. Then came writing. Your post echoes that very nicely. Thanks! Congrats on the release of your book in paperback!


  3. Lovely as always. Just this past week, my husband read about dark chocolate (at least 75% chocolate and with the fewest added ingredients plus only 2 squares) would be a great addition to his healthy diet. He’s a man that loves his chocolate. He tells me his 2 recommended squares of chocolate is enough to make anyone give the stuff up for life.:)


  4. “No matter how busy you are, there’s always room for chocolate.” Oh yeah!
    Congratulations on more opportunities to access your books. Onward … with chocolate!


  5. Sharon K. Walker says:

    Wisdom via an analogy. Wish more people had access to this.


  6. I love this story. I have heard it before – minus the fancy video. I try to fill my jar, but sometimes things get in the way. That’s what my current post is about.

    More exciting is the fact that you are becoming really knowledgeable about getting your work into the world. I am so excited for you, David. I know this has been a dream of yours! Maybe you can help school this girl.

    You know, once I get my computer back! 😉


    • Thanks, Renee, and yes, it would be best to get the computer before doing a lot of writing. If I can ever help you with anything, you have only to ask – but there are thousands (oaky, millions) of people more knowledgable than I am.


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