He’s Outside the Box

Getting ready for Bible study/translation this morning, I was again caught in the prayer of Paul for the Philippians:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Phil. 2:14-21, NIV)

Okay, here’s my quick thoughts on this: Paul is prayer seems to give the dimensions of a box. As I pondered this, I was rudely transported back to high school geometry class–the seedbed of so many nightmares. One positive thing I did gain from that class was the encouragement to consider the multi-dimensions of things: life isn’t one dimensional, flat. Paul seems to be trying to get the Philippians to realize this same thing about God.

No sooner has he drawn them a box, then he goes on to clearly point out how God is outside the box. There is no box that can contain him. He is the God who is exceedingly abundantly about all we could ask or imagine. Wow!

When my girls were little, they could spend hours playing in empty boxes, especially empty appliance boxes. My grandchildren must have inherited the same gene. There is so much that can be done with a box. So many worlds that one can create with a little imagination.

My girls outgrew playing in boxes. The same will probably happen with the grandkids. And that’s okay. Life is meant to be lived outside the refrigerator box.

God wants us to outgrow the childish boxes we may have kept in him, too. What would happen if you let him out of the box? How would your spiritual life change if you allowed him to be bigger than you’ve imagined him to be? How deep, high, and wide is your experience of his love?

I’m going to play–live–outside the box today. I’m not sure what it will look like…but I’m willing to look. How about you?

Lenten Learning Curve

The Lenten Learning Curve (and for some reason, I want to keep typing Leaning instead of Learning…hmmmmm) has felt like a roller coaster this year.  So many ups and downs, I have just barely been able to hold on.  But I don’t want to go through Lent, or any part of life, with my squeezed tightly shut and my hands white knuckling the lap bar.  There is no joy in that, only prayers for the end of the experience.

I have never considered myself adventuresome or courageous and I have been befuddled when others tell me how much they appreciate those qualities in me.  For example, they marvel at how “comfortable” I am with getting up before a crowd and sharing my heart.  I crave those opportunities.  I feel fully me when I’m preaching or teaching.  I can’t imagine not doing that. 

That being said, there has been a vicisious battle with fear this season of Lent.  I have wrestled a deeply subconscious battle up to where I could identify it and why it had such a strangle hold on me.  I have been confronted with my reticence and reluctance to move forward towards publication in my writing.   I have had to deal with relational issues resulting in painful confrontations.  Part of me would love to press rewind and pick a different path, but I know that the lessons would just come from a different direction and who knows how severe the learning would be then?

So while the lessons have not been easy, they have proved to be immensely beneficial, life-giving, and even freeing.  And while I’m not ready to throw my arms in the air and scream wahoo, I’m at least willing to admit that I’m thankful for the lessons learned.

Yesterday I faced the largest of those lessons.  I went and registered for the last time.  The deputy who worked on my paperwork was nearly as excited for me as I was.  A couple times he mentioned that he didn’t get to do this (finish someone’s paperwork) very often…um, never.  He asked if I was going to have a party.  Several people have offered to throw one for me.  Not only is the dark cloud lifted, but the fear that somehow it never would happen is gone too!  And the still small voice in the back of my heart whispers, “Will you trust Me now?”

In an endeavor to be more trusting, I took a couple steps.  I applied for a scholarship to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.  And I got it!  My reaction when I opened the email was such a mix of laughter and tears.  Then I decided that I would apply to different publishing companies to be a reviewer of books on my blog.  And I was accepted by one company.  I can barely describe how encouraged and excited I am. 

So I’m learning and leaning.  Trusting more.  Maybe I haven’t gotten to a full-fledged “Yes!”, but I’m at a very decent, “Okay!” with God.  It’s not perfect but it’s progress.  And that’s good for me.  Not bad for a recovering perfectionist.  Not bad at all.


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