My friend recently lost his wife and, I was helping him stay on track. The kitchen table was stacked with piles of papers, end tables were more of the same. It was a combination of bills, important papers, and memories.
“What’s in the box?” I asked. One lone box sat on the side table. It had not been opened.
“I don’t know, I’ve been meaning to open it.” was his reply. A few months later, the box still sat in the same place; unopened. “What’s in the box?” I asked again. He mentioned he’d meant to open it. “Let’s open it now!” I persisted.
It was his long-awaited hearing aid piece!
That was two years ago. Yesterday the same box was sitting on the counter, this time with a watermark on it. “What happened?” I inquired.
“I had a plant on that box and it leaked.”
“Is there anything in it?” I asked. I recognized the box.
“I don’t know.” He said. He opened it. “It’s my hearing aid piece!” He exclaimed much, like the first time. I looked at him, puzzled.
Why has he not done anything with it? He needed it so badly, and here he has been struggling with his old one all this time?
“Can I fix it? You know put the new piece on?” I asked. He had an untrusting look on his face that said no. I kept the new piece near me. As the visit went on, I continued to press him slowly. Eventually, I coaxed him to let me connect the new part. The difference in performance from the old to the new was immediate.
This morning my son was feeling bad about himself. He had lost his temper. We have all been trying to help him with his outbursts.
I asked him if he beat himself up after an outburst or if he was able to reflect. I had suspected because of his posture. His response broke my heart. “I often punish myself.” I searched for words.
“How do you punish yourself?” I asked hesitantly.
“Well, this morning I boxed up some of my favorite toys.”
I prayed, Lord help me, under my breath. Then this happened…
“Do you understand forgiveness?” I asked. He shook his head. “When we mess up, we can ask for forgiveness.” He understood that part. Then I added, “When we offer Jesus our sin with open hands and ask for forgiveness, He places a box in our hands. Do you know what’s in the box?” His face was thoughtful.
“No.” He said.
I explained. “Forgiveness and love are in the box. And if we open it, it says, you are loved, and I forgive you. We just have to open up the box and accept our gift. God doesn’t want to punish us and He doesn’t want us to punish ourselves.”
I remembered the hearing aid debacle from yesterday. I thought about how my friend desperately needed what was in that box, but he moved it around for a year and did not open it. And then, for another year, he knew what was in it, and he still kept moving it around.
The story of the box helped my son, but as I reflect I realize, I too have unopened boxes in my life. How many times, instead of accepting the gift Christ has for me, have I just moved it around, even when I knew what was in it?
Do you have any unopened boxes in your life? It might be…just what you need.