I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better.
-Paul (Ephesians 1:17)
My life is boxes right now. Our house is just a pile of boxes everywhere.
In one day we will be moving about 8 miles north of our current home. There’s a whole beautiful story of how that came about, but I right now I want to talk about boxes.
My wife Bethany is excellent at all this. She’s organized beyond belief and she’s been labeling and filling boxes for too many hours for over a month. Honestly, even though we try to live simply, the amount of downsizing we’ve done in the past 6 weeks reminds me of how much unnecessary clutter just adds up, even when you seek to resist it. But back to the boxes.
In the early stages of packing up, labels are easy to make. Everything stays inside it’s own box. One box says, “Keith’s theology books” (well that’s 10 boxes, who are we kidding), another box says “painting supplies,” and another, “cups and bowls.”
But inevitably, the deeper you get into the process, the less clear the contents become. A box gets labeled “bathroom supplies and stuff from that one drawer,” or “items from the garage + dining room.” Bethany just made one that has vinegar and refrigerator magnets in it, and I just filled a box with bird feeders... and a pair of scissors. It’s hard to keep our boxes straight and separate because some things can’t fit into just one box, and other boxes are big enough to hold lots of different items. It gets complicated, and honestly, there just comes a point where what really needs to happen is to keep stuff moving. So it matters less that every box is perfectly distinguished. That's how it starts- but the more important task is moving to a new place. So it gets a little messy.
This is a glimpse of continuing to move in our lives with God. At the beginning, it may be easy to clearly label each of the boxes in our lives. Each belief is neatly labeled and described. Every Bible passage has one obvious interpretation, and each question of faith has a clear answer. Then, as we continue to move through the years, we find that certain things that fall into one box may also fit into another. The deeper we get to Jesus, sometimes the less sure we are about making clear lines between the “us’s” and the “them’s” of the world. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes it's confusing. And that’s ok, because the end point isn’t knowledge. The end point is faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love (I didn’t come up with that.) So it's ok if it's hard to label each box clearly. With movement comes messiness, and God will help to bring both freedom and order to our mystery.
There’s something else that happens with our boxes as we move deeper into finding our home with Jesus. It’s not simply that we learn how to hold tension and mystery with humility. It’s that our compartmentalized life becomes completely destroyed. No longer is there a sacred and secular box in our lives. No longer is there the church box and the separate work or parenting boxes, each with an allotted amount of time and energy. There aren’t boxes for my money and then another one for resources to be given to God. A life in Jesus is completely integrated. Jesus spills into all of our boxes- Jesus even changes the content of each of our boxes. All we do, all we say, all the interactions that we have- they all become a part of this beautiful and challenging life of discipleship. It goes beyond labels. Every fiber of us becomes formed and transformed by the good news that Jesus is at work to make all things right.
If your boxes feel a little cluttered, or their contents are mysterious, or even if you feel like they might be breaking down a little… it’s alright. Simply make sure that no box is sealed off from the influence of Jesus, and you’ll be alright.
Jesus, let me welcome you into all of the mysterious compartments of my life and faith today, so that in every area, you would be Lord.