How big is your box?
It’s a simple question really. But the bigger question may be, “What are you putting inside of it?”
And there in lies the rub. Boxes come in many shapes, sizes and strengths. Just about one for every purpose you can imagine.
But what I’m targeting today is how we treat God. Or rather, how much we trust Him.
I will be the first to say that I was as bad as anybody up until about 7 years ago. It was then that my ex-wife left me, took my son and a series of events started that made me feel like a whack-a-mole with John Henry standing over me with about $1 million in quarters in his pocket. In the span of one calendar year I lost my marriage, my son, my car, my house, my mother and my job. Every time I felt like I might get my head above water, BAM! Another ‘hammer’ would hit me and down I’d go back into a depression that looked like it would never end.
The thing that really brought me back was remembering who I was. Much like the scene from the Lion King where Simba sees his father in the clouds. Mufasa implores him to “… remember who you are.” It was remembering who I was – a child of God – that finally got me turning the corner on my circumstances.
And oddly enough, the people helping me remember were not Christians. In fact, they were self-declared atheists who knew as much about the Bible as I did. They had just chosen not to believe it.
Nonetheless, God used those people to get his message through my thick skull that if I would take five minutes and just rely on Him, things would be fine.
Now, I’m not gonna lie. I spent a lot of sleepless nights still worrying about where my life was going and where my next paycheck would come from. And I plead with God on more than one occasion to not make me go through it and just give me the Cliff’s Notes on what lesson He wanted me to learn. But He knew, and I have since learned, that taking the short cut wouldn’t have made the lesson stick very well, if at all.
So what does all this have to do with a box?
Well, when we fail to trust God to do what He said He would, or when we limit what we think He can do, we take God and put Him in a metaphorical box. We constrain Him, limit Him and stop from really giving us the abundant life that He really desires for us. Let me explain…
Suppose you have something big on the horizon – maybe a big purchase or project that you need to get done for work or school. No matter what, you are going to be required to buckle down and get the required elements done. If its a term paper for school, you’re still going to have to do tons of research and actually write the paper. Maybe it’s a big purchase like a car or a house. You’re still going to have get all the paperwork together and submit it. Those things are just part of the process.
But what you do after that is what shows just how big of a box you’ve put God into. Because once you’ve done what has been asked of you, the rest belongs to God. He’ll take care of the details and He’ll make sure that the right outcome happens for you.
Don’t believe me? Then read some of the Biblical accounts of Jonah and Abraham. Jonah didn’t want to go to the Ninevites and preach because he knew God would just allow them to repent, even though they had been vile before. And Abraham opted to follow God’s lead to sacrifice Isaac, even though he was the only son he had ever had after waiting years for a male-born child.
Jonah tried to force God’s will the way he wanted it. Great idea, huh? Abraham did exactly what he was told and now he is the father of a great nation.
God is all-powerful and in some instances forces His will upon mankind. But generally speaking, when it comes to His individual people, He will only act where we let Him act. He won’t go outside the box unless we let Him.
I’ve thought about that and come to the conclusion that it would mean we – the small, weak, can’t-see-past-the-end-of-our-noses humans – would no longer be in control. We wouldn’t be calling the shots, and that scares us.
If anyone should be in a box it should be us. But our loving Father will keep us safe in His hands when we learn to trust Him to handle the things we simply cannot.