By Marvin Garrison
Boxes are an intricate part of life. There are gift boxes, pillboxes, storage boxes, toy boxes, and toolboxes. In baseball there is the batter’s box, the coach’s box, and box seats. In basketball it’s the “box and one” defense. Hockey has its penalty box. For the golfer it’s the tee box. In football there is the tackle box. Then again, we take the tackle box fishing. When we eat out we request a “take out” box. Motivational speakers will encourage us to think outside the box.
The God Box
Israel’s “God box” was an essential and integral part of the nation’s life. From Sinai to the promised land and into the kingdom, the ark of the covenant had represented God’s presence. Once Israel reached the promised land, their history is the continuing story of conflict with the Philistines. In one of those battles the ark had been taken by the Philistines as a spoil of war. Today’s lesson is the account of yet another war with the Philistines. Because things were not going well, Israel pleaded for someone to bring them their God box. Their answer to a crisis was simply, ”Bring us the God box.” It is erroneous thinking to equate the box with the presence of God.
Share or Suffocate
We, too, are engaged in a great spiritual and cultural war against an unrelenting enemy. Sadly, the war has not always gone well for the church. In those times it seems we either retreat to our box shaped sanctuary to find God or we cry out for someone to bring us the God we have kept in a box. We cannot keep God in our box; we must share him with the world.
In every generation young pranksters have called the local store and asked, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can (substitute the word box)?” Upon receiving an affirmative answer the prankster responds, “Well, you better let him out before he suffocates.” Winning the cultural war means letting God out of the box and back into our lives before we suffocate.
Marvin Garrison has served 53 years in the ministry and is the preaching minister at First Christian Church, Laverne, Oklahoma. Marvin and his wife Vickie have one son and two grandchildren.