My wife and I have been married for over 19 years. After buying our first home in 2002, we invited my parents down for a meal. We were looking forward to seeing them…and to have them see how we had settled into our new dwelling. As my mother walked through the door she carried with her…a box..a large box…a large plastic bin really. “Oh! Happy house warming!” my mother cried as she handed me the box. “I brought you a little something from your childhood!...Now that you have a home of your own, I thought you would like some things to make it more like the home you grew up in!” she said with a sadistic smile.
This bin has been moved from place to place in our home for nearly 20 years. Rarely do I ever open it, and even more rarely do I read the contents there in. The bin is filled with some very specific and invaluable childhood treasures. The box measures approximately 18 inches wide and 24 inches long and perhaps 16 inches deep and it is pretty much completely full of stacked pieces of thin cardboard. Each piece of cardboard portrays the face of a well known celebrity…at least based upon the time that the photo was taken. There are columns of numbers on the flip side of each card and in some cases, detailed paragraphs informing the reader of the great accomplishments of the pictured athlete. They are of course…baseball and football cards.
I remember my first sports card that ignited my passion for it all. All of the third grade boys in Mrs. Olson’s class were gathered tightly into a huddle…flipping through football cards of all colors and vintages. Trades were made…and oohs and ahhs were expressed. I wanted desperately to be involved in the group…but the problem was…I didn’t have any football cards to trade. “Hey!, I’ll trade you this chewed up pencil with no eraser for a card!”
“How about my collection of earwax?”
“The cookie from my lunch…it’s chocolate chip and my mother made it especially for me, because she thinks I am sweet…like a cookie…and I have lots of speckles of dirt on my face like chocolate chips?”
SWEET! My buddy Jeremy pulled, and old crumpled and creased copy of a 1980 John Riggins from the Washington Redskins card out of his backpack and handed it over. It was awesome! His jersey number 44. What were the odds…that number 44 just happened to be one of my top 50 favorite numbers between 1 and 50.
I still have that card…somewhere in that box.
I began begging my parents for football and baseball cards every time we went to the store. Occasionally they would concede…other times, I would spend my well saved and sometimes earned money on a package or two of cards. I chewed every piece of disgusting chewing gum, which was as hard as rocks, tough as Chuck Norris, dense as a mule and strong enough to pull every filling from each bicuspid.
I spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours pouring over these cards. In the end, I probably ended up with 3 noteworthy cards…a Sammy Sosa rookie card, a Jerry Rice rookie card, and a Derrick Jeter rookie card. Yet, I still have a bin full of relatively worthless pieces of cardboard taking up space in our home.
What is craziest…is that I still can’t seem to get rid of them…and I don’t really know why. I hold on to them. Perhaps it is because I know of how much time and money I had invested. Perhaps, some small part of me hopes to be able to do something unique with them…but let’s be honest…I have 100 other priorities and will likely never get around to it.
I have been reflecting this week about how we tend to hold onto things that perhaps keep us away from being transformed to be more like Jesus. This bin serves no real purpose in my life…it takes up valuable space that we really don’t have to spare. The box sits closed…unopened for years at a time.
I think I have things in my life that perhaps keep me from being centered in Christ as well.
Honestly, pride keeps me off centered. Fear keeps me off centered. Insecurity keeps me off centered. Maybe the time has come for me to empty out the bin and live freely. Perhaps it is time to empty my pride, my selfishness, my fear, my insecurity and my anxiety and allow Jesus to do the uncomfortable work of centering me on the wheel as a potter does the clay.
Maybe it is time for each of us…to be transformed.