Rubber, Metal, and Glass

Uncategorized // September 12, 2019 //

We are all people of limited resources and ability.  We are efficient beings, meaning that we have certain limitations along side certain expectations.  To the contrary, God is not. He has no limits, his resources are unlimited and his very nature is his expectation.

It is when we take those truths and apply them to our lives, things get complicated. Questions arise like: How do I set my priorities in the realms of family, work, and school? How do I manage my time with my responsibilities? It doesn’t take long to realize we are indeed limited and we will not get everything done.

To some this could be a disappointment. Though I would argue, from the Christian worldview, that it is not. God has called us to be faithful stewards, not independent superheroes. It is when we, as the redeemed in Christ, rest not only in the person and work of Christ but also in the sovereign mind and will of our Heavenly Father, that we find true liberation from the perils of our limitations.

“Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Take this commandment for instance. The Sabbath has to do with our personal trust in our personal God. If He has made everything, is everywhere, and knows everything (omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient) then surely his children should trust him with one single day off of work. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is our weekly opportunity to trust God, in so doing, we are drawn to worship Him.

Sleep for instance points us in the same direction. Sleep is a gift. We close our eyes at night, whether we know it or not, trusting that God will not only keep the world spinning and in control — but also wake us up!

Operating with this theology, how can we practically navigate the waters of priority in our lives? In other words, how can we concede our limitations, get our priorities in line, and still honor Christ?

I once heard a very wise suggestion. Something like this: In life everything, the tangible and intangible, is made of either rubber, metal, or glass.  Now if you took just the first course in Chemistry, you understand the stretch of the metaphor. But there is great truth in the wise man’s advise. Everything we do, everything we handle, and even the things we aspire to do, can be thought of as one of three materials: rubber, metal, glass.

First, we need to identify that which is rubber. These are the things in life that you can drop, whether by accident or not, and they bounce right back. Take exercise for instance. Does it really matter if you missed your Saturday run, because you were out of town? I mean, really?

Being able to identify the things in life which are rubber, will give you an incredible sense of flexibility. In fact, you may even delight in dropping a few things, knowing they will bounce back. Do yourself a favor in stress relief. “Drop the ball” every now and then — just make sure it’s rubber.

Second, identify that which is metal. These are the things that when dropped, make a very loud noise. Unlike rubber, they do not bounce back. You have to take time and effort to bend down and pick them back up. All is well once you do so, but let’s face it – it’s not exactly convenient when you drop metal. The noise makes everyone look, you cause a distraction, time is wasted and apologies are made.

The grace in this is that nobody gets hurt. It may sound like they should, but all is well. Take for instance your job. Do something stupid and get fired. Okay, you can get another job – hopefully, depending in just how stupid you were.  Most likely you will be back in the daily grind in a couple of months. But you know what happens. First you have to pack your office. Then you tell your spouse. Then you fret, worry, cry, and wonder about the “if only I would haves”.  Then comes the job search. You get it. A bunch of work, a season of distraction all because you dropped the metal.

You are right now carrying some metal. I hope not too much, not too heavy, not too bulky. Because when you drop a piece, it’ll be awkward at best.

Third, identify the things in life with the highest value and priority. These will be the things made of glass. You drop them, they break. There is no picking them up again, because they’re in a thousand pieces. Yes, they will make a loud noise much like metal. Everyone will look. But instead of picking the thing back up, you’ll be sweeping pieces into a dust pan. And most likely you’ll need some help.

Glass will be all over the ground. People will most likely cut their bare feet on left over shards. The drop site may be a hazard for years to come. Here’s the lesson: Don’t drop the glass. Throw down the rubber, let the metal down gently if you have to but don’t drop the glass.

Your family, yes, is glass. Your spouse, is precious glass. And just incase you were wondering, you yourself are glass. God has entrusted you with many things. All on your plate to make you into a faithful steward, giving him thanks for everything and everyday.

We all have full and heavy loads. Watch what you carry and how you carry it. And as you live life, first by the leadership of the Holy Spirit — it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some people look in your backpack every once in a while. Accountability saves lives, it also saves a lot of dirty work.

About Neal Thornton