Paper Bags, Cardboard Boxes, and iPhones

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Ephesians 3:20

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

My supervisor bought doughnuts for our office today. It was a nice gesture, and then something happened. I had trouble closing the box, it was a simple crease issue. I put down what I was juggling, and closed it. Then a thought struck me, “Who created the paper/cardboard box?”

The first paperboard, not cardboard, box was produced in England. However, the pre-cut paperboard/cardboard box was invented in Brooklyn in 1890. His name was Robert Gair, a Scottish born Brooklyn printer and paper-bag maker. Through an accident involving a metal ruler while printing seed bags, he made his discovery. From that, he literally built an empire out of the box.

It’s amusing that the first person to create the box, did it by thinking outside of his current container. We always say to think outside of the box, but he thought outside of the paper bag. The saying has become so cliché that we miss something in it’s wisdom. It isn’t only about thinking differently, it’s about taking your thinking to the next level.

This week, we tech geeks, computer nerds, Apple fan boys, or whatever you want to call us, are excited. The new iPhone(s) are out. The fact that there are two models, is in itself an innovation. There used to be only one new model a year. Whether you are an Android user, or Apple user, we can both agree on one thing. We get excited about innovation.

The thing about innovation is that it’s not only about thinking what has never been thought before, it’s about thinking in a way that you’ve never thought before. In other words, going from the paper bag to the box may seem like a small step today. It wasn’t in 1870, and in many ways, that innovation lead to the smart phones of today.

God doesn’t expect us to think like Him immediately, but He does expect us to think more like Him continually. When He looked at Isaiah, He said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are above your ways.” When we arrive at The New Testament, He says “Follow Me!” “He causes us to sit together in Heavenly places”, and reminds us that now, “We have the mind of Christ.

Is your thinking right now paper bag thinking? If so, then explore your borders. The difference between a paper bag and the cardboard box isn’t just the folding, it’s the weight. The more we seek His Will, we start to think like Him. The more we think like Jesus, the more we act like Jesus. The more we act like Him, the stronger we become.

The stronger we grow in Him, the more we can bare the burdens of those in need. The Apostle Paul said, “Follow us as we follow The Lord”, we are to be examples. As we step out of paper bag thinking, into cardboard box thinking, and so on, we can connect with others. We do this, not through a wireless connection, but by being wired to a new way of thinking, thinking like Christ Jesus.

If you’re going through a mental battle today, hear this through the noise. Christ loves you! The noise’s only purpose is to disrupt this. It’s designed to keep you from thinking clearly. Yes, it’s plan is to get you to do what you normally wouldn’t think of doing, but it’s more dangerous than that. It wants to keep you from thinking like Him.

The battle you’re fighting, you’re not fighting alone. You also aren’t only fighting for your own survival. The Lord is fighting with you, and together, you are both fighting for someone else. Yes, He is fighting for you, but you are both warring for the benefit of someone else.  You are also fighting for all of those people that, with His help, you are capable of reaching.

When the battle reaches the fiercest level, and you are so tempted to give up, or to give in, ignore the noise and think. Think, not of today, but of tomorrow. Think of those faces in Children’s Ministry that depend on you to hear more about Jesus. Think of that friend that you love, that needs encouragement. Finally think of Christ Jesus, who rescued you with His own blood.

Think out of the situation you are in to the victory a few feet ahead. Think of the fact that on the darkest day of Christ’s life, He thought of the brightest day of our future. He thought of when He welcomed us into His Kingdom.

The battle you are facing is by no means trivial, it’s tormenting and terrifying, but compare it to your future. When you do this, you’ll realize that this is just a paper bag battle trying to keep you from the gift box that God has in store for us all. He is calling you into a greater place in Him.  He is doing this to empower you to carry others tomorrow, through what you have defeated today!