1,000 Marbles and Counting…

The story of 1,000 Marbles has been circulating on the Internet for some time now…

1,000 Marbles

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the backyard patio with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other.  What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.

I turned the dial up to listen to a Saturday morning talk show I heard an older sounding gentleman, with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles.”

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say…

“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job.

I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.”

He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.”  And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.” 

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.

“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”

“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”

“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again.

You could have heard a pin drop on the radio when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work that morning. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a while since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”   —Source: Anonymous

This awesome story reminds us to avoid taking life for granted and simply getting caught up in the current of life, and reminds us to treasure each day so that we can make the most out the time we have with our loved ones, but as a Christian, when I read this story, I found something missing…. FAITH.

I can only vaguely remember the days when I took life for granted.  When I was little, sickness was something that people lived with for a little while, and then they recovered.  But when my grandfather passed away when I was fifteen, and we all felt his sudden absence after such a strong presence in our lives.  That was a shock.

I didn’t realize at the time that grief was at the heart of my mom’s sickness and depression, even as her illness dragged on longer and longer and she got worse and worse.  There were brief periods where life went on as “normal” before she would get sick again, and even when my mom was very sick, losing her wasn’t ever a possibility in my mind, because she was so young, and because the idea of losing her was inconceivable… Until we lost her.  She was just 49, I was just 18.  My life was forever changed and I’m still grieving.

And, about fifteen years later my dad was diagnosed with  cancer. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to receive such a bleak diagnosis, Stage IV colon cancer, with just months to live. Thankfully my dad received excellent care and we were blessed with another seven years with him, but they were horribly difficult years for all of us because he had so much pain and sickness and uncertainty, and we weren’t sure how much time we would have. My sister and I both lived out of state, so every time we said goodbye to my dad, we knew it could be the last goodbye.

Dad lived about 20 years longer than Mom did.  That’s a thousand marbles. Dad was there for weddings, proms, graduations, and the birth of my children.  Sadly he was about 100 marbles short of being there for the birth of my nephew, his grandson. 

I found my way back to church after losing my dad and going through a terrible divorce.  My church family has been an incredible source of support, help, and spiritual growth.  My brothers and sisters in Christ have helped and mentored and discipled me in such amazing ways, which led me to realize what a difference a church family could have made for my family growing up  

If only our family had known the Lord.  We grew up going to church but we didn’t have community, conversations, or personal relationships with Jesus Christ.  I drifted away from God and away from the church after my mom died, but I now know we all would have had more peace if only we had focused on where dad would be going when the Lord finally called him home.  Nothing will take away the pain of losing Dad, or the feeling of being utterly lost without either of my parents. Knowing that I will see them again is a huge comfort, and even huger is the knowledge that my daughters won’t have to go through such grievous loss without knowing the Lord and knowing the tremendous sense of peace that comes along with knowing Him.

As Christians, we know the importance of helping others to make the most of the marbles they have left.

I figure I have 1,000 marbles left, give or take… So I’ll take every opportunity to spend time with family, to fellowship with my church family, and to share the Gospel, to share PEACE, HOPE AND LOVE.