The Little Brown Cardboard Box

A while back, I settled into my overstuffed chair with TV dinner and milk in hand, to watch a movie on the tube. The blurb was innocent enough so I clicked on the appropriate channel, squirming to get comfortable.

The title I’d chosen was The Skeleton Key starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowland, Peter Starsgaard, and John Hurt. The storyline was about a young woman who, disenfranchised by a common apathy toward patients at a hospice ward, leaves to take a position as a caretaker at a private residence in the Louisiana Bayou, which is where the bulk of the story takes place. My story, however, takes place in the hospice ward in the opening scenes of the movie.

The opening scene begins with Kate Hudson sitting at the bedside of an older male patient reading Treasure Island to him. One minute his eyes are open. . .the next minute, his eyes are closed. She closes its pages, stands, and puts the book on the chair. She reaches over and checks his vitals. Mr. Talcott had expired. As she stands there looking down at him compassionately with a sorrowful look, another nurse goes by and stops at the open door.

Mr. Talcott’s gone,” Kate says, shaking her head.

The next scene Kate is walking outside the building with a little brown cardboard box in her arms. A label identifies the box as belonging to Mr. Talcott who had just passed away. Just a few feet away from the back door sits a top-loaded trash container. She lifts the lid and prepares to throw away the box, but first she looks inside the container.

Inside we see three other similar sized boxes lying in the trash bin, each with its own label, identifying the owner of a previously diseased person’s possessions. From that scene and for another twenty minutes further into the movie, I do not remember anything that happened; I just sat there in my recliner staring through the TV, with tears in my eyes.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that old man’s box. It wasn’t that I did not have empathy to the other people that the boxes represented in the trash bin, but because of the movie, I attached myself to this man’s particular plight, which was probably the author’s intent. I thought to myself, “the sum total of this man’s whole life was able to fit inside of a small box that couldn’t have been any larger than 14″X20″X12″ deep.” That, by itself, gave me pause.

Everything in that box was the only proof that he even existed. To make things worse, there were no family members there at his side when he crossed over to the other side, just a nurse who cared enough to perform a simple act of kindness by reading to him as he slipped away.

I knew that this was just a movie but I couldn’t help thinking about what possible keepsakes were among the contents of his box: perhaps some pictures or a few personal letters, a cross at the end of a chain, or perhaps a woman’s wedding band. Everything that was important to him was the only things in the box. Now it sat in a trash bin in an alley.

I felt that the trash bin was a perfect representation of the refiner’s fire that will consume all hay, grass, and straw on that day. Everything that is not of Jesus and of the Spirit will burn in that fire. We will lose it. Although faith without works is dead (James 2:20), our works will be burned up. (How do we impress a God who has created the universe?)

Our brown cardboard box could represent what we do with our lives. What will we have to show for the years that the Lord allotted us to live? Life is a gift from God. What we do with that life, is a gift back to Him. What will the angel find in our little brown cardboard box before he throws it into the trash container of the refiner’s fire? What will survive the fire?

In that day of the Lord, the Good News Bible says that, “If what a man built on the foundation survives the fire, he will receive a reward. But if any man’s work is burnt up, then he will lose it; but he himself will be saved, as if he had escaped the fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15)

That scene at the trash bin had a huge impact on my spiritual life. I thought, Lord, what will be the sum total of my spiritual life when you send your angel to collect my spirit? What keepsakes will I leave for you? What will remain in my brown cardboard box after the fire?

I flat asked the Lord, “With what do I fill up my little brown cardboard box? What in my life is hay and stubble that the fire will burn up when you come for your Bride?” (1 Corinthians 3;12-15)

The Lord gave Scriptures to my spirit, hesitating three to four seconds between them evidently giving each one its own emphasis. He said, “son, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. . .and with all thy soul. . .and with all thy strength. . .and with all thy mind. . .and thy neighbour as thyself.’” (Luke 10:27)

Obey my commandments for it is profitable for you. (Exodus 20:2-17)

Forgive one another as I have forgiven you; (Mark 11:25)

The Lord continued, “. . .whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Hold firm to the fruit of the spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

Be ye holy; for I am holy.“(1 Peter 1:16)

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

“These are gold, silver, and stones, or true and solid doctrine. Wood, hay, and stubble are things of man’s invention; only the substantial and vital truths of Christ will make it through the refiner’s fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11, 12)

He was not quite finished yet and led me to a Scripture in His Word that put everything into perspective for me — Colossians 3:1-4. The Good News Bible says it this way: “You have been raised to life with Christ. Set your hearts, then, on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on His throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on Earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Here is the kicker for me, “. . .Your real life is Christ, and when He appears, then you too will appear with Him and share His glory.

Our real life is Christ! That hit me. How many times have I read that Scripture and just read over it? We are His body and Christ is the head of that body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Colossians 1:18). He is the foundation of the temple and we are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:5). Hallelujah!

In everything that we do, we need to constantly be aware that we are an extension of Christ that we are His body and can only do what the head tells us. . .or should. Develop a hunger for Christ and fill your little brown boxes with a pure Christian life, encouraging others and representing Christ here on Earth through evangelism. All else will be burned up on that day.

What will be in our little brown cardboard box when Christ requires our Spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7)? Will we just squeak into heaven or will we receive our reward for a job well done thou good and faithful servant. (Mathew 25:21)

People have said that if the authorities arrested us for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us. I say, when people experience us. . .will they experience Christ?

Saved by the Door

I think that the Lord is trying to tell me something about what I’ll be doing pretty much for the rest of my life. There is no doubt in my mind what the Lord’s will is for my life. The Lord has called me to write for Him in these last days of human government. How do I know this? Writing is my passion and I don’t just write when I have nothing else to do, or when I get in the mood off and on, and after I do all my other projects first. I have very little balance in my life right now because writing is all that I do.

Even if I had something else to do or had a relationship, I wouldn’t have much time to do it or spend time with her. Don’t get me wrong, I’m elated and passionate about what I am doing for the Lord, but I’m getting close to burn out, (but I won’t quit.) I’m not going to fail God as well. I may have too many writing projects going at the same time, but Jesus, who began a good work in me, will bring it to completion [1]. For instance,

I have one book that is finished but need to edit. I have a book that God recently gave to me on which I have only written two chapters. I have a fiction book that I have haven’t even started as yet but have the outline finished. This is not counting a bi-monthly blog that I have to keep up with for my readers. (I used to write this weekly.) Speaking of which because of all my writing projects, I didn’t have a topic for this up-coming blog. I needed to rest in the Lord [2] for a refreshing. God periodically stops feeding me stuff when I get to that stage. He recently gave me the opportunity to rest in Him

I thank you Jesus for the opportunity to do something for my brothers and sisters, for giving me a ministry in your kingdom, and for your glory.

Recently, I stopped over at a friend’s house to spend the night and get some uninterrupted sleep and rest after a birthday party before continuing on home. I was mentally fatigued and close to exhaustion. It was mid-morning and I got this pressure in my bladder that told me to get up and go. . .NOW! Which I did.

This friend lives in the forest and it gets quite dark there. I sat up in my bed, pulled the covers back, and hung my legs over the edge of the bed. I stepped onto the floor and turned toward the door, which was only about four to five feet away. As God as my witness, I could NOT see the nose on my face. It was pitch black in the room. The room was completely and totally black. The trees even hid the light from the stars coming through the window. It was scary black.

However, I knew where the door was so I began my trek to exit the room. Now, I’m 73 years old, and to date, I have walked for more than 72 of them, but after a couple of steps, I felt myself listing forward. It startled me and I tried catching myself but I couldn’t. I stretched out my left hand to brace and catch myself against the door to the bedroom. I hoped I was close enough to catch myself without damaging my right shoulder any further. It worked. I caught myself. Whew! I left the room, did my duty, and went back to bed. Even going back through the room again, I felt a little disorientated before I bumped into the bed and crawled under the covers.

The way that my body has been falling apart lately, I was hoping that it wasn’t my equilibrium that was failing me now as well. UGH! Instead of another failed body part, I chose to believe that the room was so black that my brain had no point of reference with which to balance itself. (I mean the room was totally black. You have no idea.) As I lay there in bed thinking about my trip to the bathroom, I recognized the unction in my spirit that the Lord was hinting at something. I had my blog.

My (just about) accident was a perfect metaphor. The darkness and blackness of the room, was the enemy in our lives and the destruction that he can cause if we are not rooted and balanced IN Christ. As the door saved my bacon that night, so can Jesus, who is the Door, save us from the enemy, and all of his dastardly deeds, to steal, kill, and destroy.

v9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
v10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. [John 10:9, 10 KJV]

As Clarke points out in his commentary to this John 10 Scripture, Shall go in and out are all the actions of a man’s life, and the liberty he has of acting, or not acting. A good shepherd conducts his flock to the fields where good pasturage is to be found; watches over them while there, and brings them back again and secures them in the fold. So he that is taught and called of God feeds the flock of Christ with those truths of his word of grace which nourish them unto eternal life; and God blesses together both the shepherd and the sheep, so that going out and coming in they find pasture: every occurrence is made useful to them; and all things work together for their good.

In otherward, if we follow Christ and let Him lead us, He will save our bacon, in everything, with the truths and grace of God. God is no respecter of person [3]. He saved my bacon that night. . .and He will save yours. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. [4].
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[1] Philippians 1:6
[2] Psalms 46:10
[3] Acts 10:34
[4] Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13