Our housemate Helen recently moved out (to go to her lovely new house in Coventry!). While we were packing and shifting things I was struck by the poignancy of one particular image – the bottom falling out of a box.
The box in question was not in great condition to begin with, and was certainly not happy about being filled up with airbeds (surprisingly heavy things!). In the end it pretty much gave up the ghost and we had to shift stuff out of it into other boxes, and hold it very carefully! With hindsight it seems glaringly obvious that this was going to happen. After all, your standard cardboard boxes just aren’t built to carry enormous amounts of heavy stuff – they have a reasonable capacity, and it is usually quite clear when that is being reached (and then breached)… But how often do we do this to ourselves?
Psalm 130 (the Message translation) begins with the heart-wrenchingly honest statement:
“Help God – the bottom has fallen out of my life!”
Wow. I’ve been there before.
Sometimes massive stuff happens to us and knocks us right off our feet. Sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. Some things are just too big.
But often I don’t think this is the case. I know that I have a habit of ‘collecting’ troubles. This is not intentional, and is definitely not pleasant, but I would be surprised if I was the only one. You see it is just too appealing, for a range of reasons, to store up our troubles – to pack them into our lives like objects in a cardboard box and carry them around with us. Sometimes I think I feel like I need to be ‘aware of the situation’, or maybe I want to ‘give it further thought’. It may be that I enjoy the sympathy, or that I like to have an excuse ready. I’m not sure exactly why, but I am sure that it’s not o.k.
When Jesus told us not to worry about our lives (Matthew 6) it was because He knows that many of us struggle with this – and He knows where it will lead. What happens when you keep carrying loads of heavy stuff around in a cardboard box? It might start out all right – you might manage for a day, a week, even a month…but eventually it will get too much. It may only be something relatively small that tips the balance, but once your box is bust then even light and good things will slip straight through. You might not like feeling full of hurt – try feeling completely empty inside…
The solution? It’s far easier said than done, but we simply have to learn to let go. As gospel song goes: “Cast your burdens onto Jesus because He cares for you”. Take time to put the weights out of yourself – speak them out, breath them out, write them out, and then keep them out. Sit in silent stillness and listen for the Still, Small Voice gentle whispering to you: all will be well. It doesn’t come naturally – especially for deep hurts and concerns. However – your options are clear: ‘let go and let God’, or put yourself at risk of collapse. No question.