Inside the Box | Genesis 7:11-16
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in. Genesis 7:11-16 | ESV
This definitely was not the time to be thinking (or stepping) “outside the box.” I’ve been bombarded with “box” imagery of late. A friend sent me a poem about personally becoming “unboxed.” I just listened to a commencement speech urging the graduates to think outside the box. I recently stumbled across Seth Godin’s Poke the Box. And I keep seeing boxes of various sorts when I’m talking with people or just listening. During that commencement speech, one of the examples of “out of the box” thinking and living was Noah in his willingness to buck the culture and endure the ridicule of his contemporaries. I couldn’t help but savor the irony of Noah thinking outside the box by building one very large seaworthy box. It was evidently a box that took him a century to build, a box he lived in for a year. But then, significantly, after the box had served its purpose by conveying him to a new world, Noah stepped out, walked away, and evidently never looked back. And we’re still looking for that box. Interesting that he didn’t turn that box into his home or into a hotel, a museum, or a temple. He walked away and now we must simply imagine what that Box looked like. In another conversation, the image of the Old Testament tabernacle and temple was evoked – and what was tabernacle and temple but a box within a box within a box like the ultimate set of holy Russian nesting dolls? Holy Place, Holy of Holies, and Holy Box of the Covenant. Interestingly enough, contrary to the apparent assumption in Raiders of the Lost Ark, God nor heaven was contained in that Holy Box. God said he dwelt above the box. And when God’s presence showed up in the form of a disorienting, foggy cloud, everyone had to step out of the box. Hmmmm… And now, it’s the TARDIS. It took a bit of time, but my daughter has succeeded in sucking me into the world (or worlds) of Doctor Who, though I don’t know if I have yet attained to full official Whovian status. But if religion is a box, it should be like the TARDIS. Period. Bigger on the inside. And that’s an understatement. Not just a thing, a holy relic or object, but alive and sentient and mysterious. And it takes you places – and is it where you want to go, or is it really where the TARDIS wants to go? Who really is driving the TARDIS? And when you get there, you are supposed to step out of the box. Though archaic in its outer dimensions, it blends in anywhere. And it provides a universal translator. Now there’s a box I can get into.
And out of.
Which do you think is more challenging: thinking outside the box or learning to live creatively inside it? Which way to you see life? Religion? God? Why?
God, if I am to be boxed by anything, let it be by the ever-expansive world of your unfailing mercy and grace that takes me, lifts me, transports me to places and vistas I can’t even begin to imagine. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.