There they are, sitting in the corner of the room. Yes, they are tucked away, but still I see them. The boxes from two gifts I received recently.
Entering the living room, I settle on the couch and my eyes wander back to where they sit.
“Is it time to throw them out?” I wonder.
Both the mixer and the humidifier that came in the boxes have been opened and used. They appear to work well.
They have found homes elsewhere in my house, yet still the boxes sit there. Should I throw them out?
From the couch I convince myself that, yes, it is time to throw them out. Next time I’m standing, I will throw them out.
Still, doubt rises. I have not yet had them for 30 days. What if they malfunction and stop working? I could take them back, but I would need the box and all the packaging.
I shake my head. The boxes are cluttering up the space. The items have worked just fine. Besides, the store may not be willing to receive them back now that I’ve used them.
But, what if…
I’ll ask my husband what he thinks when he gets off work. That will settle things.
With that I push the thoughts away and turn to the task I am supposed to be working on.
— — —
That evening, I forgot to ask my husband his opinion, so the boxes stayed put.
Several times this debate took place in my head as I eyed the boxes. I didn’t like the space they were consuming, but what if…?
With the empty boxes still sitting nearby as I type, I ask the question, are there any boxes I need to throw out in my life?
For me, some of those boxes still kicking around in my head and heart might be the “that’s not how it used to be” comments.
True, there may have been good in how things used to be done. Still, holding onto those thoughts creates clutter that steals from my ability to enjoy the new ways of doing things.
An example cropped up in my life recently related to my pregnancy.
I used to be a morning person. Before 9am used to be my best time for writing. During pregnancy, however, my mind was sluggish most mornings. That’s not how it used to be, yet if I hang onto that thought too tightly, I may slip into grumbling and bitterness.
Indeed, with a new baby around, there are many changes I must embrace, and I can do it much better if I throw out the boxes.
Now, that might be a useful life principle, but I believe there is a more important box to throw out when it comes to following Jesus.
Throwing away those boxes that are sitting in my living room feels a bit risky because it is a commitment – a commitment that I will not be taking those items back for a refund. Once the boxes are gone, if one of the items breaks, it’s on me to buy a replacement.
Similarly, choosing to give my life 100% to Jesus can feel risky. What if I don’t like what He asks me to do? What if I want my old life back?
In Matthew 8:19-22 ESV, we see that Jesus wants us to be all in – no holding onto boxes.
“A scribe came up and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.'”
Elsewhere Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25 ESV)
So what about me? Am I following Jesus with my entire life, or do I cling to some boxes that are keeping me back?
Just like the boxes still cluttering my living room, it is time for me to get rid of those boxes that are hindering me in my walk with Jesus.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
P.S. I have since recycled those boxes. My living room looks much better without them!
I open my eyes at the sound of stirring in the bassinet beside me. A cry escapes my baby, and then another.
Yawning, I glance at the clock – 5:45 am.
I pull myself out of bed and pick up my little one.
Carrying her through the dim hallway to the living room, I talk to her.
“Did you have a good sleep? Are you hungry again?”
Her eyes drift into sleep, but then scrunch as her cries resume with renewed force.
I settle myself on the couch to nurse her.
As she feeds, my eyes droop dangerously. I shake my head to ward off the drowsiness.
I calculate back to the last time I fed her. I have managed an hour and a half of sleep since then.
When my baby finishes nursing, she sprawls in a milk coma, limp and asleep.
Gratefully, I gingerly carry her back to the bassinet before slipping into my own bed.
I glance at the clock. It’s just after 6:00 am.
My baby will have time to be awake and play later, but for now I pull my blankets snug and let my eyes close.
A short cry wakes me. I hear stirrings beside me.
I glance at the clock – 7:45 am.
Laying still, I listen as the stirrings increase until the cry resumes.
Pushing aside the blankets, I stretch. Time to feed the baby again.
Lifting my crying baby, I head toward the living room again. At least this time I feel more awake.
In 1 Peter 2:2, we read, “Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow up into your salvation,…” (CSB)
How often do newborns crave milk? Do they only want to eat once a week on Sundays? Or perhaps once a day?
No. A newborn baby is likely to want to eat every 2-3 hours, resulting in eight feeds a day.
This leads me to ask myself the question: “How often do I crave the Word of God?”
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 tells me what this can look like.
“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” (CSB)
I know I have much room for growth in this area.
Newborns crave milk with a passion. When hungry, they zealously plea to be satisfied.
Their hunger is not some passive, “I can do that later.”
They exclaim, “I need food now!”
How urgent is my desire to be in the Bible? How often do I ponder the things of God?
I have one last thought to share before I wrap up this post. For it I must return to 1 Peter.
If I back up one verse to 1 Peter 2:1, I read, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.” (CSB)
I am to rid myself of these ungodly things to help free me up to desire the Word of God.
I’ve noticed something similar in my baby.
Milk goes in and poo comes out. When the poo gets delayed and doesn’t come out for several days, it seems her appetite drops due to lack of space in her little belly.
Then comes the moment when she empties out her poo (and we hope the diaper contains it all). Once that’s done, she is ravenously hungry. Why? Because she has space again.
(Please note I am not a doctor or nurse, but simply a mom making observations and guessing at the reasons behind them.)
I suspect similar is true for me.
In order for me to rightly desire to be in the Word, in a way comparable to a baby desiring milk, my heart must be right. If my heart is full of envy or deceit, it will have no room to ponder the things of God.
Do not misunderstand. This is not a matter of salvation. Being saved and born again is a free gift from God. (To read more about this good news, check out The Gospel.)
This, rather, is talking to those who are already saved (see 1 Peter 2:3). It is referring to how I am to be growing toward maturity in my walk with the Lord (see 1 Peter 2:2b).
So how is my intake of the Bible doing? How often am I making room in my heart to feast on the very Word of God? How often do my thoughts revolve around the things of God?
Not as often as I would like.
Lord, help me to desire more of Your Word and to be intentional to make time to read and ponder it.
Rising from breakfast, I glanced at the small pile of dishes. I should wash them without delay because it might be today.
I reach for the measuring cup I use to water the houseplants. As I give each plant a drink I wonder, “Is this the last time before it happens?” Just in case, I give them extra.
As I hug my husband and tell him to have a good day at work, I remind him that it could be his last for a while because it might be today.
What might be today?
My baby might be born. Being past the due date now, I’m watching and hoping for signs that she might be coming.
In the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep everything ready.
We keep the dishes clean and the pantry stocked. We’ve already set out extra water for the cat and are at the ready to give her enough food to last longer.
The car seat is sitting by the door and the hospital bag is packed.
My husband’s co-workers have been informed and the truck has gas. We’ve even practiced driving to the hospital to be sure we know where to go.
Now we wait.
Will she come today? I don’t know, but I hope so.
Why do I share these thoughts? Because my baby is not the only one who might be coming today.
Jesus has told us that He is coming again. He might come today, or call me home.
Am I ready?
Is my heart prepared for His return?
Have I done the dishes and packed the hospital bag? Or have I let the dirty dishes pile into an unsightly heap?
Am I living as if this life is all there is or am I prepared for eternity?
In Matthew 24, Jesus is very clear. He is returning one day, but no one knows what day it will be. We must be ready for Him at any moment.
“This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 CSB)
Likewise, I know my baby is coming, but I don’t know which day. Therefore, I must be prepared for her arrival at any moment.
There is a song that’s been on my mind as I think about Jesus’ near return. It reminds us that:
“It might be today I look into Your eyes. It might be today I see Your face…” (https://www.worshipsong.com/music/songs/songdetails/it-might-be-today)
Am I ready for His return?
Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8b CSB)
Oh, that He would find faith in me and find me ready on the day He returns or calls me home.
Have you ever heard the age-old debate about the “proper” way to fold towels and sheets?
Should the towels be folded in half and then in thirds? Or perhaps in thirds and then in quarters? No, the best way might be simply in half and then in half again.
It seems every established housewife or business that uses towels claims a different way to be the best and only correct way to fold towels.
During my Bible school days, I attended three different schools all run by the same parent organization. I was surprised just how different they did things at each school. Those differences included how they folded the towels. In fact, in one of the schools, towels had to be folded differently based on whether they were guest towels or kitchen towels.
When I got married and moved into a new place, it took a few weeks to figure out a way of folding towels to enable them to fit into our narrow cupboard while allowing the cupboard door to close.
“So, what’s the point?” you may be asking.
The lesson hidden in the midst of the many towel folding techniques is simple, yet ever so complex.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV tells me:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”
A time for what, you may ask? The following verses mention many examples, including:
“A time to be born and a time to die…”
“A time to plant and a time to uproot…”
“A time to weep and a time to laugh…”
“A time to search and a time to give up…”
“A time to keep and a time to throw away…”
“A time to tear and a time to mend…”
“A time to be silent and a time to speak…”
Throughout the Bible I see examples of this. There was a time for Israel and his sons to plant themselves in Egypt, and a time for them to uproot themselves and leave. The Apostle Paul sometimes stayed put in the face of persecution, but at other times fled. Sometimes Jesus was silent, while at other times He spoke with great boldness.
In Luke 10:4, Jesus sent out His disciples with instructions to not bring a purse or bag, but later, in Luke 22:35-36, we read:
“Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’
‘Nothing,’ they answered.
He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'” (NIV)
Why do I point out these things? Because it is valuable for me to be reminded from time to time that, while the core doctrines and what is right or wrong do not change, the best actions to take or the best way to respond may vary from situation to situation.
I often have seen this clearly in my preschool teaching. Some children learn well by sitting quietly, but for others, having movement incorporated helps them pay attention for longer. Some children respond well with a gentle word of correction, while others need firm consequences clearly laid out.
So how do I know what to do in each situation? I don’t. However, previous experience, knowledge of the situation, being well grounded in the Bible, and walking in tune with Jesus all help.
Indeed, may my prayer be like that of David in Psalm 25:4-5,
“Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.” (NKJV)
So how do you fold your towels? I currently fold bath towels in thirds and then in quarters because it’s the best way I’ve found to make them fit on my narrow shelf.