Wednesday, October 15, 2014

God in a Box

If you look back on the blog post for August 27 of this year, entitled “The List,” there is a picture of one full column of my actual vacation list. The heading for the second column (which you cannot see) is labeled “VACATION BOX.”

The Vacation Box is a plastic tote which holds many of the items I regularly take on vacation like extra fishing line, a spare pair of sunglasses, a filet knife, a rain suit, and other items. Many of these items are permanently stored in the Vacation Box. Since these items do not entirely fill it, the Vacation Box also doubles as my suitcase, carrying clothes, toiletries, and other items.

It’s very handy to have everything one needs in a big rectangular bucket.

Well, I recently had occasion to enjoy a mini-vacation in the Brainerd area. The forecast included rain, wind, and cold, so I diligently packed quilted flannel shirts, flannel-lined jeans, (My fondness for all things flannel is not a secret—particularly if it is plaid flannel.) warm socks, and a rain suit.

I had planned to depart on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., but there were bills to pay, garbage to take out, and seemingly endless scores of minor details that absolutely, positively had to be done before I left.

Finally, at 1:20 p.m., I plopped my exasperated self in the driver’s seat of my truck with my boat in tow and the back of the truck loaded with a mini charcoal grill, a heater, an inflatable bed, a bucket of camping kitchen utensils, rods, reels, my tackle box, a folding chair, and numerous other items.

Before I turned the key, I prayed out loud, thanking the LORD for the opportunity to enjoy this time, asking for safe travel, and that He keep my family safe while I was gone. I ended the prayer with, “And, LORD, if there is anything which I have forgotten which I need, please bring it to my attention now.”

I paused.

There was no voice from heaven. The LORD was silent.

“Amen,” I said, and drove away.

Four hours later, at 185 miles from home, with only about 30 miles to go to my final destination, I stopped for one of those “necessary” breaks and purchased some dish soap. As I put it in the back of the truck, I did hear a voice:

“Where’s the Vacation Box?”

It was my own voice, and it was very shortly answered by the very same voice saying,

“Right next to the door where you left it.”

All my warm clothes, my toothpaste, my toothbrush, my filet knife, my sharpening steel, my, my, my…

And my blood pressure pills, too! (You can insert your own punch-line after that sentence.)

Why had the LORD not answered my prayer? Why had He let me drive away without all that stuff I needed? How could He let me ruin my vacation like that? All I had was the clothes on my back! What If I got wet? What would I do?

As it turns out, a pharmacy in Brainerd was easily able to contact my local pharmacy and provide me with a five-day supply of my prescriptions at a reasonable cost. Likewise, the Brainerd Salvation Army Thrift Store provided a very nice dark blue corduroy shirt (Okay--not plaid flannel, but at $3.95, who’s complaining?) a white T-shirt, and a like-new pair of brown denim jeans. (What’s wrong with brown denim?) A big-box store had warm socks on sale, and toothpaste and a toothbrush certainly didn’t break the bank.

My vacation was not ruined. I had a wonderful time in God’s creation and truly did not suffer at all. I even caught some fish.

On the drive home, I realized Jesus had conducted His entire ministry with nothing more than the clothes on His back and that which His Father had provided in exactly the right amounts and at exactly the right times.

There was no suitcase at the foot of the cross--only my sin.

God had indeed answered my prayer. I had specifically asked to be told if there was anything I needed which I had forgotten.  I didn’t actually need any of that stuff in that box because that box could never, ever contain all of God’s love, grace, mercy, blessings, and power.

Today’s Praise

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

(The above is verse three of “The Love of God” by Frederick Lehman, written in 1917. Lehman said these words were found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.)



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