I recently moved. If you have ever moved in your life, you know it is No. Fun. It’s a lot of work. A lot of sweat and effort and frustration. And boxes. Boxes EVERYWHERE. You can’t turn around without seeing a box. Or running into one. Knocking one over. Pile your stuff in a box, slap some tape on it and set it to the side. Keep going, room by room, and pretty soon you’ve got boxes all over the places.
Then, you have to MOVE those boxes. One by one. Pick them up from here and set them down there. Just anywhere. Set it here, or over in the corner. Piles and stacks and towers of boxes. (Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book…)
Then it comes time to unpack the boxes. (I still haven’t unpacked all the boxes from my move. They’re just never-ending…maybe they multiply…) Maybe you were smart and labeled your boxes. I started out that way, nice and neat and organized. Then I got tired, or got lazy, and stopped. There were just so MANY of them. Some of the boxes just said “stuff”. Duh. Others had no label at all…which may be an improvement over “stuff”. It was a giant surprise to open it up and find out what I’d stuffed in there. (And yes, I have the kind of mind where I can throw myself a surprise party…don’t judge.) Some of the boxes were taped up so tightly I thought I’d never get back into them. Went a little crazy with the packing tape. In any case, it’s just as much a chore to unpack your boxes as it is to pack them. Labeled or not, taped or not, it’s no fun to unpack those buggers.
In thinking about that, it occurred to me that the boxes I had packed up in my life were some of the things that were holding me back from coming back to Jesus. Big or little, heavy or lightweight, I had a million boxes tucked here and there in my “room”.
These are the boxes where I had packed up my hurts, my fears, my failures, my disappointments, my sins, my habits, my crutches, my addictions. I had no intentions of unpacking these boxes. They were fine right where they were, thank you very much.
It’s hard to open up the box where your hurt lives. That hurt still hurts. It may be 20 years old, but it still stings.
It’s brutal to open up the box where your fear lives. Fear grows and multiplies and invades and just takes over everything. Best to keep it locked up tight in your box.
The box of failures is just too humiliating to open up.
Each of these is a stumbling block to a life lived to the fullest, the life lived “more abundantly”.
But what about your habits. Your crutches. Your addictions. Your private little sins. For me, these were the hardest to contemplate unpacking. These were the ones I wanted to hold on to. See, during my journey deeper and deeper into bondage, Jesus was still calling me to Him. But I knew I would have to unpack those boxes. I knew I was making choices that precluded me being able to live the life I knew He wanted me to live. I convinced myself that I didn’t need that life, then went a step further and decided that life with Jesus was “a” life to live, but not the only. It was a way, but one of many. To each his own, you know. You do you.
Once I made the decision to cross over into deliberate sin, I had to pack up the former life, the one that included Jesus. What I grew up knowing to be true, to be right, was stuffed in a box and shoved into the corner in my mind. As life went on, and hurts and failures and disappointments piled up, each of those was packed in a box and shoved in a corner. Pretty soon, what I knew to be true and right was so far in the back, buried behind so much other stuff that I didn’t even know where to find it anymore.
I had a major turning point in my life in the summer of 2019. It was a pivot point. Life was not going to be the same after that. I found that a lot of the boxes I had packed up were starting to come undone, spilling their contents all over the place. Several times during the next year the boxes waaaaay in the back, where I had packed my faith, started to rattle. In the privacy of my mind, I would glance over at them and give a passing thought to opening them back up. To coming back.
Each passing thought was followed up with thoughts of all I would have to give up. My lifestyle. My music. My entertainment choices. My potty mouth. Concerts, parties, hangouts with friends, etc., etc. I couldn’t give all that up. It was too much fun. It was who I was now. It was my identity. All I could see that I would get in return was a dull, boring life. Rules to follow. Can’t do this, can’t do that. Nah, not for me. Besides, me and God had an “understanding”. I was alright. I was saved. I knew where I’d go when I died. All that stuff could just stay in their respective boxes.
Then the “really bad day” came. That really bad day was preceded by several other bad days. Days where all the boxes spilled out together, a big conglomerate of yuck. The hurt that I had stuffed in a box and shoved in a corner just grew bigger in the box. Same with the fear and the disappointment. The unmet needs. The yearning. The longing to belong, to be chosen, to be wanted, to be loved. They all got bigger in their boxes. And they’d all spill out at one time into one giant mess. I would spend several days mopping up the mess, repacking the boxes, taping them more securely this time. Stacking them up neatly in a room I’d labeled “I’ll Deal with You Later”. Just a couple doors down from “Never Again”. And the boxes in the back would rattle.
On the really bad day, they all spilled out again. The anger I had stuffed down, the fear, the hurt…all of it. Bitterness. Rage. Despair. Defeat. That day was the end of me. The end of my ability to pack it all back up again. I didn’t realize it yet, though. Even on that day, in the middle of the tornado of emotion, I assumed I would be able to get it back in order. The next morning, my Appointment Day, Jesus finally was able to get through. And I finally admitted that I couldn’t do it any more.
But now I had boxes to unpack. I had decisions to make. I had to decide if I would let Him have the boxes I’d labeled “Do Not Touch”. The habits and sins and crutches. The things I had held on to so tightly and was so afraid to give up. I can tell you that it was hard and easy at the same time. I can also tell you that opening those boxes, being willing to let Him have what was in them was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My fear was that I would have no fun. That I would have a boring, dull life living by the rules. That I would become one of “those” people…the churchy people, the holier-than-thou people. And, being absolutely honest and transparent, I enjoyed my pet sins. My habits. I enjoyed my potty mouth, hanging out with friends, going to concerts and parties, living it up. It was fun. It was a carnival ride.
But the ugly underbelly of the carnival can’t compete with the bright, joyous life that Jesus came to give. I can tell you this with absolute certainty: I regret nothing that I have “given up”. I can laugh at that now…that mindset. Jesus cleaned up my language first, then I found I just didn’t want to watch the shows and movies I had loved before. Just no interest in them. Same with the parties, etc. I regret nothing. God has filled my life to the fullest and I have found more joy than any of my crutches could have ever given me. Lasting joy. Joy that invades every area of my life. Yes, I’m one of “those” people now…a Jesus lover. A churchy person. Not holier-than-thou, because who in the world has sinned more than I have…? No one! And my lifechange didn’t happen because of me, it happened because of Him. Because one glorious day I had an appointment with my Savior and He made me whole.
What is in your boxes? What are you holding back from Him? What’s keeping you from experiencing the joy Jesus gives? Open your box, let Him have what’s inside, and He’ll give you something in return that is priceless and far outweighs anything you could ever gain on your own.