Outside the Box 3
Glenn Goodwin

It has been said that the way to be successful is to find someone that is successful and imitate him or her. It’s also been said that if what you’re doing is not working, then try something different. I like what Brother Larry Hartquist says, “if you always do what you've always done, then you’re always going to get what you've always got.” Living for God is all about changes: changing the inward man, changing our thought patterns, changing our spirit.

We can’t go on with God without changing our lifestyle. We come to God as babes, but through prayer, through teaching, through help and guidance from each other, we grow into what God has planned for our lives. We follow the examples of Christians that have gone on before us or are leading us now, and try to emulate them. But, too often, we become settled in a routine that we get comfortable with; we get in a rut! I call it a box. As I stated in the previous articles, we live inside a box. This box confines us to a standard of living, to a way of life that is comfortable to us. We’ve grown up restricted to a certain course of action, to certain guidelines. And because of these guidelines - up bringing, education, our environment, and our experiences - we become limited to what we can do. A point to keep in mind, however: there is very little that we can do to change the walls of our box.

We cannot alter how we were raised; we can’t go back in time and change our parentage or birth. We cannot change our experiences; we can only add to them, not subtract any that we have had. We can only add to our education, not undo what we have already learned. And, of course, we can always move from where we are, but wherever we do go, there we will be. The walls are there, they will always be there, and there will always be walls.

But the danger is not the walls that are built around us; the danger is becoming too lax, too comfortable, too lethargic and complacent. So, for the most part, we don’t want to get out of this box, nor do we have the desire or need to. Perhaps we think that stepping outside the box would cause us to become defiant to the rules of society, or maybe to be unruly to the order of the day. But I’m not talking about being rebellious or insubordinate. I’m talking about doing something for God that you have never done before. Or something you did for God years ago that perhaps you’re too ashamed or embarrassed to do now. God made us all individuals. He made us all different.

God does not expect us to be something other than ourselves. But just what is it that God wants you to be? Are we to go through life living a ho-hum life, living complacently with what we have, or can we make changes in our lives that would cause others to take notice of the Christ that lives within us? It is said that prayer changes things. Prayer also changes us into what God wants us to be. Great men of God weren’t necessarily great men; they were men that did great things for God. Christ wants us to do more.

And there will always be more to do. Jesus said “that the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest, Matthew 9:37-38, and again, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest,” John 4:35. Isn’t there something we can do that we haven’t done? Will we go through life just doing what we always do, always getting the same results? Can’t we step outside our box and do just one thing for God that’s different than we did yesterday? Take more of a concern for the elderly, for instance, or take time to tell your neighbor about what the Lord has done for you.

Pray out loud in your car going to work tomorrow. Something. Anything. Take charge of your life, instead of letting your life take charge of you. Step outside your box and look at life through the eyes of Christ. It’s been said of our assembly that every service is different. It is different because there was a man that made changes daily. Whenever he spoke changes were made. Whenever he talked to you, you changed how you lived, how you viewed life. Sometimes a person can teach us more than just words, more than just doctrine.

A person can teach us by the way he lives, by the changes he himself makes. This man was an example to us and for us, and we don’t want to forget what he taught us. There’s nothing we can do to change the past, to change the walls that are already up, but we can alter the way we live from here on out. So let’s analyze our walls. Examine the way you were brought up, examine your education, your experiences, your environment. Think back to how you live your life and see whether there’s just one little thing you can do for Christ today, or whether you would be more comfortable in your rut today.

We all have our own problems, but it’s how we handle those problems that makes all the difference in the world, that makes us stand out from others. Don’t let things happen; make things happen! Living for Christ is making changes: spiritual changes, mental changes, emotional changes, daily changes.

Back to Articles