Be Careful with That Box!

In 2015 our eldest married; two years later our youngest followed suit. Since then, between the two couples, there have been six moves. A lot could be said about all those moves, but one thing is for sure…that’s a lot of boxes! 

 Moving is a fascinating endeavor. In a matter of hours, the entire contents of one’s home are compartmentalized and packaged into boxes. You wrap. You tape. You label. The goal: transport everything of value as efficiently, as neatly, as quickly as possible without breaking anything. And regardless of who carries and loads the boxes, with every step and every stack, the courier must be careful with that box! 

With move number seven about to transpire (no, that is not a joke), I have been thinking a lot about boxes. Specifically, how we try to put God in a box. Boxes are great for moving, but God does not do boxes. He has a way of oozing out the seams, popping open the top, and exploding the entire box from the inside. Funny thing, religion can be boxed. But relationship cannot. And we keep trying to make God about boxed religion when He is offering us an un-packable relationship. 

Religion has rules—the clearer-cut, the better. With religion, you can apply if-then statements. (You know, IF your child does drug THEN apply “tough love” and cut them loose.) Religion colors with two Crayolas: the black one and the white one. It prefers linear shapes with nice, neat straight edges, like boxes. Messes should be quickly cleaned; problems immediately resolved. Yup. Religion will fit (and stay) in your box.

Relationships have rules but the rules of covenant not contract. If-then statements must bow to the uniqueness of individuals and circumstances. Relationship uses all the crayons from Crayola’s box, even those foggy shades of gray. The neat angular lines of squares and rectangles, give way to circles, loops, and swirly things. Messes are par for the course, and problems take time to unravel, like a ball of tangled yarn. Sure, you could just cut out the knots, but that would sever relationship. See? God can’t—He won’t—fit in your box. 

Let’s be honest. We like the predictable. We like control. We like to have the answers, know the if-then equations to implement. We like boxes containing all the parts, with instructions, that enable us to maintain our independence. 

(Oh golly, there we go again. Back to the Garden. Where it all started. Where we asserted, we demanded, our independence, eating the fruit and sending everything into chaos, trading the freedom of relationship for the rigid box of religion.) 

But instead of a neatly packaged box of religion, we have an unpredictable God that cannot be controlled. A God who sometimes says “Stay,” and other times says “Go.” And to find out which one is the “way” this time requires a relationship of utter trust and dependence. 

 If we insist on putting God in a box, be careful with that box. Sooner or later, that box is gonna explode!