There once was a girl who was handed a box. She took that box with her everywhere she went. She loved that box. It brought her comfort. Then one day she tripped and in an effort to catch herself, she dropped the box. The box broke. As she started to look at herself assessing the damage to her body from the tumble, she noticed that the box’s lid was shattered, but the contents seemed to still be intact. As she lifted the box into her lap she pressed her face in close to that cube – and was surprised to find that the box was empty. What had once been sealed so tight, her comfort and her burden since she was a small child – was found to be without substance. There wasn’t anything in that box.
The girl sat there on the path, her knees bloody with that empty box on her lap and she wept. She wept for all the things she thought she held in there and she wept for every belief that had come undone.
The box was empty.
This story is about me.
Once upon a time I carried a neat little box. This box represented comfort for me. I kept God in that box. It was a box handed to me by the churched generations that went before me. Then one day I tripped – and I realized that the God of the universe is not contained in a neat little box. He is not a tame lion. (CS Lewis) So I sat there on that path and a great big God who speaks my name and calls me to Himself – He sat right there with me as long as I needed to be still. He spoke truth into my heart. He spoke His promises. Then one day He helped me stand up, He healed my skinned knees, He kicked the box to the curb and He took my hand, leading me on into a bigger world – a world where He is not tame.
There were moments when I thought I would come undone. There were moments when I thought He was moving too slowly. There were moments when I thought He allowed others to carry their boxes for too long. But He never left me, He does not forsake me. He walks with me just as I am.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)
While we were still sinners He died. It does not say: and after they had confessed all that they were and all that they were not, He finally agreed to be their Savior. It says that while we were living as sinners, Christ died for us. Wow!
Who I Met on the Path Along the Way
Now along that path I’ve come across people who have tripped and found their boxes empty too… and they don’t know what to do. So I try to remind them of Jesus. I try to show them the face of the untamed lion. I try to point them to Jesus. I tell my story often to give others hope that God is bigger then we sometimes allow Him to be.
Unfortunately my stories about church and faith are messy… it doesn’t make me or others look too good. That brings me to the next group I often come face to face with: There are those who knew me when I still carried that box and they don’t like what I have become. They see me as a threat to the box they still carry and they would like me to shut up. They are afraid to lift the lid and look inside. In this same group are those who never knew me – but they don’t like how messy my story is and they don’t like how I tell it so they shout real loud to drown my story out.
Thankfully there is a whole other group who knew me when I held that box and they embrace the changing me. They have given me freedom to share my voice – they have loved, they have encouraged. They have listened as I kicked, flailed and fought the path. They have rejoiced with me and wept with me. They have not tried to bullet point my life into an appropriate plan of action. They allow the Holy Spirit to lead me – and they lovingly (not sanctimoniously) offer suggestions.
They don’t see that box kicked to the curb as a threat – they don’t see my story as wrong or sinful, but a part of the REDEEMED saying so. I pray you have people in your life like that… because the sanctimonious know it alls get old real fast.
So I’m asking you – are you still carrying that box? Are you ready to put it down? Or are you afraid? Are you sitting still on the path not knowing what to do? Did you figure out that there was nothing in that box a long time ago and you just need reminded? Do you need someone to listen and to pray?
“All of you set free by God, tell the world! Tell how he freed you from oppression, Then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas. Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live, Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.” (Psalm 107:2-8 The Message)
Let me know if I can pray for you…