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Learning to Live Outside the Box

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

Do you find yourself constantly stuck in patterns? Up at the same time each day, stopping at the same donut shop for coffee on your way to work, and performing the same job duties within minutes of the time you worked on the same task yesterday.

If this is you, you are certainly not alone.

There was a time in my life where I literally felt like I lived in a series of different shaped boxes. I would arrive to a job each morning where I would sit in an 8x10 box also known as a cubicle. As I sat in this confined space I would gaze into a small box of brightly colored shapes and images that sat on the top of my desk called a computer.

Occasionally, I would get up and leave my personal work box to go to a larger more common box called a conference room. Here, people would share their thoughts that originated back in their personal boxes. Allegedly, these ideas came from “outside the box”. All of these different boxes fit into a larger container called a building.

At the end of each day, I would climb into a shiny, metallic box that moved. This box of alloy and steel would carry me to what is known as my home box. My home box consisted of roughly eight smaller boxes within a box (imagine a Faberge egg) that I shared with my wife (not a box).

These boxes afforded me the opportunity to leave my boxed in world of the workplace to become part of a community of fellow box owners. However, I did not spend as much time as I would like in my home box with my fellow box owners because I spent most of my time riding in my shiny, metallic box to the box where I stared at that small box on my desk for 10 hours per day. I looked at the small box with bright, moving pictures to earn enough money to pay for my home box and the shiny, metallic box that transported me between the two.

I guess you could say I felt “boxed in” during this closed in period of my life. Life was boring, incomplete, and without cause.

Fortunately, these feelings only lasted for a brief time but I think they are indicative of an entire generation people who feel there is something missing in their lives. These folks are constantly asking themselves the question, ‘Isn’t there more to life than this?”

I can answer that question with an unequivocal yes. Living life in this manner creates an undeniably closed, withdrawn feeling of emptiness inside and out. There is a knot in the pit of your stomach knowing there is a whole world of excitement, beauty, and love that seemingly lies just beyond your neatly packaged environment. You want to experience, and can experience this bounty, but you feel hindered by your patterned existence. You believe that if you step outside your four walled boundaries, your entire being will collapse around you like a house of cards.

This collapse is called change. Most people are receptive to the concept of change but to actually participate in it is a completely different story.

I know this analogy seems completely absurd but the thought of breaking down the walls to that box is a lot like a pre-packaged TV dinner. You have everything you need: peas, carrots, roast beef, even a bit of gravy, all bundled neatly in a plastic, sectioned container. However, the meal is still bland and tasteless.

Sometimes life is the same way. It works, it is functional, but your lifestyle has taken on the qualities of this pre-packaged dinner … adequate, safe, yet lacking … you get the picture.

When you have reached this point you can’t help but ask yourself, “Where is the filet mignon?”

I am here to tell you that the answer to that question lies within you. So often we configure our lives to the point where there are no sharp edges, just rounded corners. We lose sight of the fullness of God’s love for each and every one of us. The “us” mentioned in the previous sentence also includes you. And don’t ever think that it doesn’t.

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

‘Against such there is no law’ suggests that there are no boundaries or restrictions in relation to living our lives by the fruit of the spirit. To live life in such a manner will remove those four walls comprising our own personal box and place us in an environment filled with His security, grace, and abundant joy.

Change is good, especially when we are removing the shackles that are binding us to a life of blandness and unfulfilled expectations that we have placed upon ourselves. Who wants to be functional and adequate when we can be bursting with an unparalleled sense of freshness and feeling truly alive?

As the aforementioned scripture in Galatians suggests there are many qualities associated with living a spirit filled life. An old, battle-worn Bible that I have had for nearly 20 years features a wonderful prayer for those who are desperate to leave behind a life of mundane plainness for a life more abundant.

Here is a portion of that prayer:

Lord, I pray …

… for LOVE, the kind that streams from a heart overflowing, a natural selfless love …

… for JOY that is present in all circumstances of life …

… for PEACE of mind and spirit amidst the rush of busy schedules – the peace of a heart right with God, that comes from a clear conscience …

… for FAITHFULNESS to my daily tasks however ordinary, and to You, Lord, and Your Word …

… for SELF-CONTROL, to be purposeful and to be aware of all my decisions and actions and their consequences …

Lord, fill me with Your Spirit and let these fruits be seen in ever-increasing ways – daily – so it will be truly “Christ in me.”

Today is a new day and a new year. Pack those boxes away that you have been living in and allow God to show you the realities of His limitless love and fullness.

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

 

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