My doorbell rang the exact moment I had spent too much time watching unboxing* videos on YouTube. Begrudgingly, I whisked myself to the door only to find that Shame, Embarrassment and Ridicule were waiting there. All three of them were pointing their disapproving fingers at me while “tsk-tsking” their catching of me wasting time.
Unboxing can be a bit addicting to watch and, if not monitored, can absorb all of the time one gives it. It is viewed by millions of fine** folks online and they unbox everything from Playstations to rubber bands. Yes, rubber bands. Some people, in a rather disturbing trend, have begun purchasing mystery boxes from the dark web. These boxes are purchased via BitCoin and are obtained from untraceable sources with names like Anonymous, DeathHack4Cutie or Floyd. What is even more intriguing is that one is never quite sure what they might find while unboxing these cryptic wares. (Gloves are encouraged when opening said boxes). And, as you might imagine, the boxes are filled with bizarre items, disparaging “samples," and dark curiosities. It’s the kind of feeling one might get if they received a birthday present from their Uncle Ned. Who is in prison. For life. Because he’s a serial killer.
When it comes to unboxing disturbing items, I wonder who the first person will be who unboxes the Mark of the Beast and posts it on social media. Could you imagine? I have seen a few videos of people having RFID chips imbedded into their hands. Hold on … let me take a look on YouTube right now for some links …. Found some!
Here’s an unboxing video of an RFID implant item: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXvOmpApi3k
And here’s one with a guy actually implanting one by himself (it's a bit graphic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj5g454AD4E
Maybe we should be thankful that the Bible isn’t full of unboxing videos. I, for one, would not want to see a video of Adam unboxing what he got for his rib or even Eve unboxing the forbidden fruit. (Maybe that’s how Eve got Adam to eat the fruit. She might’ve made a great unboxing video). On the other hand, It would be great to watch Moses unbox the Ark of the Covenant, no offense to Indy, or seeing Aaron unbox the Urim and Thummim. Speaking of which, I always thought the Urim and Thummim were a sort of spiritual Magic8 Ball except with a more robotic “yes or no" vibe to it. Kind of like Captain Christopher Pike’s wheelchair in the first Star Trek pilot in 1964. (Wow. I am nerding out with that reference). And, lastly, I believe we would all benefit from Saint Paul unboxing the spiritual gifts for us and truly showing how they work and how long they last. (Get it? How long they last? Man, I'm crushing the cheesiness factor today).
So, how does unboxing play into our faith? I’m glad you asked. The first option is to make sure we unbox the spiritual gifts that the Lord has given us. There are a few sermon series I found online with that exact topic. Unboxing our spiritual gifts is vital to helping grow the Church, others, and ourselves. A second option would be to discuss how pastors should make sure they are unboxing all of the gifted people within their congregation. Too many times pastors try and do it all. There is a richness in every church that must be unboxed. Yet, I want to take this particular unboxing themed treatise into a deeper, darker option. Allow me to explain.
There are treasures from God that may only be unlocked through a most difficult process. It is one that takes our cooperation with God to an intense level. I speak simply of pain. Pain is miserable. There is no escaping difficult times on this planet but there is an option to how we respond to those painful times. When hardships happen we are left with the choice to either draw near to the Lord or hide away from His presence. Many of us call out to God for help and a speedy rescue. However, at times when there is no apparent answer or help from God, some of us tend to harden our hearts toward His Spirit. That has led some people to abandon their faith so much so that they go on social media and vlog their disappointment with God. Watching someone unbox difficult times in their life and then exhibiting via social media their mind numbing pathos, either through pagan revelry or griping sessions, is cheap, morbid entertainment at best. I think some folks watch it to feel better about their own miserable existence. After all, misery sure does love company.
The Apostle Paul had plenty of opportunity to withdraw from God due to the hardships he endured while doing ministry. One would think that God would have made Paul's life easier since he was doing so much ministry. I mean, he wrote most of the New Testament. That's gotta be worth some sort of pain free/get out of jail card. Despite the hardships Paul stayed the course. Here are Paul’s own words from 2 Corinthians 11:
"24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."
Paul did not waste any of his pain. He unboxed his difficulties and hardships. He accepted the tough times and showed us all how to endure it. How? It was his mindset. His attitude. From Paul’s perspective, his pain had purpose. Here, again, is Paul's attitude on the subject of his trials from 2 Corinthians 4:
"8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."
Paul is exceptionally gifted at finding treasure in darkness. He sees that pain shapes him and molds him in ways that help him to love others, love God, and become more like Jesus. But the great aspect of this unboxing is that he shows us what that looks like and what such an attitude has on our lives. I know there are many YouTube videos of people showing off all of their successes, riches, and fame, but I believe that people are truly captivated when they listen to a story of a person enduring great hardship and rising above it. Their resilience to do so is what we should unbox. People who can bounce back from being knocked down embody the hubris of true intestinal fortitude and do so with the full state of mind that accompanies only the most stout of heart. Our watching of them endure adversity, with a perspective dipped deep in purpose, gives us strength to do the same. Plus, when we decide to live the same way, embracing a more difficult road, we are comforted by God through the process. Paul explains that when this happens, we can then comfort others who are going through similar circumstances. He says in 2 Corinthians 1, "3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."
So, the next time you receive a package from the dark side of life, keep unboxing it. Don't waste it. Dig deep and see what treasures can be found. There's purpose there. And with purpose you can bounce back from anything that life sends your way. As someone somewhere in seminary once taught me: "blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken." But, to be safe, we should all take the advice from those who unbox items from the dark web: Wear gloves.
(*un·box·ing /ˌənˈbäksiNG/ noun: unboxing: An act or instance of removing a newly purchased product from its packaging and examining its features, typically when filmed and shared on a social media site)
(**fine: I guess that’s relative.)
In matters of faith, the first time I met the Lord (way back in '89), I was filled with wonder and awe and real, almost unexplainable, joy. Every thing I discovered about God just blew my mind. Reading the Bible, praying, sharing the Gospel, doing ministry, all of it felt like I had won an eternal lottery where each second became better than the last.
Now, some 30 years later, following God is more complex than I ever could have imagined. My last 30 years of faith have been filled with ups, downs, joys, pain, sorrow, heartbreak, disappointment, wonder, love, anger, depression, gratefulness, thankfulness, selfishness, ... well, you get the picture. I guess Jesus said it best, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) And a full life he has definitely provided.
Living a real life of faith is greater than the greatest movie or the wildest invention. Plus, these lives we've been given are being recorded. And that's not just inside our memories. I've been under the impression that our lives will be replayed for us up in heaven on the Day of Judgment. That sounds so embarrassing. Seriously. I hope no one watches. I hope it's just a private screening between God and I. Would you want it any other way? Imagine getting up to heaven, and everyone who ever lived is sitting in that giant living room in the sky and the angels start rolling out the VCR and TV. Then they start playing all the VHS tapes of our lives. Oh, shoot me now. The word humiliation sounds too glorious for how embarrassing that moment would be. Of course, this is not how it's going to happen. I think it's more of a livestream event that's happening right now. And when we enter into heaven, all we need to know is that our name is in the Lamb's Book of Life. (See Rev 21:27) Also, there is that one "book" ... we get glimpses of in Revelation and in Psalms. For example, look at this verse from Revelation 20:12, "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books." (NIV) Or this verse from Psalm139:16 "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (NLT)
Anyway, in honor of VCR's, DVR's, BOOKS, SCROLLS, and every other device that can record, I have started this blog to not just place more words in print but to provide a place where we can post comments and share insights that will help all of us to have a "Life Book" worth reading.
About Grundy's Blog
Like a man writing a blog, I unleash my phalanges upon my apple keyboard with reckless abandon. There is only one goal behind these words of mine: world domination. Or was it increased webpage traffic? I can't remember.