I was cleaning, the way many of us are at this time. It’s a good way to keep the hands and mind busy. I came across a cardboard box I didn’t recognize. I took it off the shelf and opened it. Inside it was my Scout pocket knife from my days in Boy Scout Troop 155 in Bloomingdale. I dug some more. There were crafts I had undertaken, patches from events like the Klondike Derby, held on Broad Street in downtown Kingsport. I could smell campfires, rope twine, the canvas of tents at Camp Davy Crockett, as if it were happening in real time.
I closed the box and muttered to myself, “I can’t believe I kept these treasures in a cardboard box!” A cardboard box can be frail; subject to weakness. A little dampness can ruin it in a matter of seconds. It can’t take a hard hit, and anything sharp — anything at all — can compromise it.
The frailty of things is on everyone’s mind these days. What about my health, or the health of my parents? What about the health of my friends and loved ones who are at risk of getting sick? Yet, there is a way in which our frailty is something that plays into God’s hands all along. Do you know what you are? Do you know what treasures you hold?
“7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 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. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (II Corinthians 4: 7-11)
A clay jar in Paul’s day was not that different, functionally speaking, from a cardboard box. It was cheap and temporary, but it was also adequate for storage. You and I may be prone to weakness, but the fact of Jesus, his suffering and resurrection, are part of who we are. And that means that we carry the truth of spiritual rebirth and eternal life in us. That’s not too bad for a cardboard box!
Mike Beverly is pastor at Indian Springs Christian Church in Kingsport.