Sunday, January 25, 2009


I love my nieces and nephews. I have 13 of them if you include my brother's foster-son. And we include him. They are my kids' best friends and they are a lot of fun.

For instance, yesterday I had my brother's son and daughter as well as one of my sister's sons. My niece, Molly, plays with my youngest daughter Arwen. They played all morning and afternoon including a stint outside in the cold. This tired them out. Arwen usually has a nap in the afternoon but we let her skip it due to the fact that her cousin was over. They both decided to have a nap without my prompting. My daughter chose a sofa. My niece chose a box. A wicker box we use for storage and for an end table. Doesn't look particularly comfortable does it? Nevertheless, the only reason I found her was because she was snoring! This episode got me to thinking about boxes.

"Don't put God in a box". There is not many times I hear that and don't find it annoying. Isn't it obvious that the people who say that are putting God in a "box"? They are putting God in the "Don't-put-God-in-a-box" box. And that is all any of us can do. That is how we think; we put things in boxes. We organize ideas and concepts by putting them in boxes and categories. How else can we make sense of the world. We take all the bits of info and make a framework of boxes to understand them. We must classify and order information to make it intelligible.

And so, instead of self-defeatingly trying to "not put God in a box", we should attempt to put God in the right box. A box that is accurate to the truth about God that he has revealed to us. Thus, we read in Psalm 139:7-10 the following:
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
And we realize that God is present everywhere and so add that descriptor to the box we put God in. Or, we read in Psalm 115:3 that "Our God is in the heavens;he does all that he pleases" and add omnipotent to the construction of our God-box. Do we really and truly grasp all-powerfulness or omnipresence in their entirety? Of course not. But that is how God has revealed himself to us in His Word so that is how we must think of Him. Now, I understand that part of the revelation of Scripture is that God is above and beyond any box we can even think of: He is not confined to any box we make. But again, is that not just part of the box we make to understand him?

So much of our growth in our faith journey is a process of coming to a better understanding of who God is. Or, in other words, to understand what are the dimensions, attributes, and life of the box we put God in.

There very may well be a time coming when we no longer "put God in a box": For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). Until then, with God's Spirit helping, let's use God's Word to make sure our "God box" is as accurate and truthful as possible.

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