What’s In The Box

Sometimes when I have bought some electronic gadget (oh, where my money goes!) the box will have a “What’s in the Package” list. It might be *Main item, *Adapter, *Cord, *Stand, *Instruction manual. In case of “Some Assembly Required” (don’t you just love those) the list may have things like 6 bolts, washers and wrench included.

These lists are helpful as a check to see if everything really was included, or if anything else is needed to make it work. Perhaps a nice accessory can be added, or you need a longer cable, but the What’s in the Box list lets you know your starting point.

Every person is a unique package, a designer’s work, that has been put together with capabilities and purpose known best by the designer. The underscored word here is unique. My packaging is not like yours, nor yours like your brother, spouse, parent. We arrive on earth with
everything that is in the box, but we have no list that comes with us.

Now the problem arises. What is this thing for? How is it used? Does it take pictures or clean ceiling fans, wash the laundry or heat the house, write sonatas or heal the sick? Having no idea what is in the box, many parents begin to use the object in a wrongful way which brings ruination to the object and displeasure to everyone. Picture trying to mop the floor with a candelabra. Bake a loaf of bread on the music box. Paint the walls with a hammer.

The result of this misuse is often ruined lives and a huge loss to our mutual society. Tales abound of parents shoving children toward a career of medicine or law when what is in their package is an ability to craft magnificent things with their hands. Forced to work in a field unsuited to their design, people move into emotional disease of anger, depression, and sense of failure. The reality is, they do fail because that is not what is in their box.

Some children are born to care-less parents who neither treasure them, nor help them explore their unique package. The child, trying to sort out what life is all about, begins to reason: If these big important people don’t like me, or hurt me, there must be something terribly wrong with me. The child seldom if ever thinks that there is something wrong with the big adult. The little one concludes that whatever is in his box is wrong, terribly wrong. The seed of self-hatred has been sown, leading to a diseased adult who self-medicates his or her pain in all sorts of self-destructive ways.

One answer to the growing problem of malfunctioning adults is to begin with the unexplored package, looking for what’s inside and then using it correctly. What part of society will begin to teach into this, stressing the need to see each package as valuable? From where I sit, only the church has any clue about the worth of each life. Yet some churches in attempting to turn out cookie cutter Christians fail to understand the uniqueness of each individual, thus contributing to the problem.

It is vital that we each begin to look inside our own boxes, recognize the enormous value therein. Then we can begin to live fully satisfying lives, sharing with others and contributing our gift to the world.

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Authentic Life

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. William Shakespeare

What does being true to one’s self look like? This often quoted line from Shakespeare is so accepted as wisdom that many people think it is Biblical. Seldom is it pondered upon. Being true to ones’ self means at the very least knowing what the core self is. If I am going to be true to myself, I must first know what that standard is so that I have a measuring stick to compare by.

The self — what is that? Who are you? The current “educated” elite whose god is science have written knowledgable papers and given TED talks on what makes up a person. They have delved into what defines consciousness, the chemical inner workings of the brain, the response of neurons to stimuli. Biologists have sliced and diced the human organism down to the microscopic cell components searching for more and more insight into what makes us tick. As the many branches of scientific inquiry look deeper in, astrophysicists look farther out looking for origins, or better yet, signs of life elsewhere in the universe. There are ongoing arguments throughout the scientific community about how even to define life. This seems to be akin to pulling the wings off a butterfly to see how it works.

Looking to science for answers to our question is therefore fruitless. The Bible, however, does declare with assurance just what life is and why there is life anyway. It is there we must look for answers to our questions of what is the true self. It is there where we find the purpose in life revealed. Yet, although that true purpose of life is revealed in Scripture for those who seek it, it has remained hidden from the eyes of many if not most people. Like the popular hidden objects games, the truth is in plain view, but sometimes almost impossible to find in the clutter that comes in from many directions. In our frustration we look for a ‘clue’ button which will highlight for us that truth we seek.

I encourage everyone to stop for a moment. Think, ponder, meditate on who you think you are. If I were to ask you face to face “How would you define your true self?” how would you answer that? Akin to that question is this: “Do you live an authentic life?” The authentic life is an outgrowth or expression of a person whose every action is true to their identity and purpose. In touch with the true self, the God-created and sustained self, everything from the inside out is authentic, balanced, in equilibrium, and peace. That sounds like a tall order, a pie in the sky quest. But I believe it is possible. It is definitely scriptural.

In some parts of Christendom there has been much preaching and teaching about “Identity.” Other parts of the Body of Christ have not considered the topic in any way. Whether taught or not, the result seems to be the same: No change in the people, no change in the way we maintain relationships, no change in moving in the power of the Spirit, no change in making a positive impact in the culture around us. Could it just be possible we are missing something?

A second popular topic is our purpose and destiny. Those who are seriously seeking for answers to that question gradually begin to glean a few truths such as: man is created to take dominion; man is created to glorify God; man is created to love God and enjoy him forever. I believe this is only a small gleam of truth coming through a crack in the door; it is not the full story. Even if man’s purpose is learned, his destiny clearly laid out, that does not mean he is automatically living a true, authentic life. Again, are we missing something here?

I encourage you to consider seriously the importance of pressing toward the goal of living life out of your authentic self, with a clearer understanding of your purpose, so that you will be surprised and satisfied, fulfilled and fruitful. The journey to that end may not be a smooth, straight line. There may be some hard work and even pain as you address some dearly held mind sets which have to go. You will be challenged to alter some of your behavior patterns and risk stepping into new ways. All of life, all of your life, is ultimately the outcome of choices previously made. You have the opportunity, if you are alive and reading this today, to choose to change toward all that is authentic. If you decide things are just fine, thank you, then expect no change in the peace and power levels of the life you live. But if you are not satisfied, it is time to move to a better way. As an old dictum has it: If you don’t want a Coke, stop putting money in the slot.

Seasons

A piping of white edges the flower beds, a last bit of winter’s trim. For all the dreariness, there is a sense of hope stirring within and without.  Unseen as yet, crocus and narcissus are swelling, ready to burst into view.  The sun is rising higher now and a squirrel made his brave appearance yesterday.  All of this bespeaks “Help is on the way!”

Along with the natural progression to renewed warmth and life, there is an increased awareness of God’s presence  across the land.  A report of His moving sovereignly this past week in Kansas City, with outbreaks of repentance, weeping and conviction has just come in.  There has been a shift in the spiritual atmosphere both here at home and at Church since the turn of the calendar.  A long time friend who attended our recent conference reported that she saw the music during worship!  Waves of color came from the instruments, and “molecules” (the best word she could find to describe the impossible) of life filled the room.  Our spiritual excitement rises as we observe the Lord at work, and experience His tangible presence.

At the same time, there has been a rash of “sudden and awful” accidental deaths of young people, many of whom were professed Christians.  The normal reaction is “Why?”  What is going on here?  One of the results of these tragic events is the impact on their peers who are suddenly thrust into the reality that life on earth does not go on forever.  They are being brought abruptly to the realization that they are not immortal as they attend funerals for classmates, a most out-of-order situation.  For the first time, perhaps, they are forced to think of weightier values than dates and rock stars.  The premature deaths of their friends are becoming planted seeds, bearing fruit of eternal life as those left behind seek for true meaning and purpose.

Spring is coming, and new life is arising. It is time for singing in the land.