Thinking Inside the Box

“You can stand in the box and wave your arms if you want to, but I need you to stay inside the box.” That’s the advice that my daughter, the communications czar, gives to the people who send her copy.

For years now, “thinking outside the box” has been such a cliché, especially in business circles, to be pretty much meaningless. I’ve heard it enough times to suggest that we start looking back inside the box. Who knows? There might be something useful in there, and nobody has paid it any attention for ages!

While I’m often in favor of paradigm shifting and useful innovation, I’ve found that the human fascination with “thinking outside the box” is often an excuse to ignore the stuff that is inside the box. In other words, it is a way to jettison traditions and rules and the wisdom of the ages without giving it much thought.

I mention that today because before running off and leaving Psalm 118:24, I wanted to revisit one of the words, one that I gave very little attention to on our first run through. The word is the next-to-last in the verse, “in.”

When we say, with the Psalmist

This is the day the LORD has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.

that “in,” while small, is important beyond its letter count. For us to rejoice and be glad in this day, that little preposition indicates the relationship between our actions (rejoice and be glad) and the day (it). Where will we rejoice and be glad? In the day the Lord made.

You cannot simultaneously operate within and without the day God made, so that little word excludes our attempts to make ourselves happy outside God’s day.  How much human effort is spent in trying to make the day the Lord has made into a day that He hasn’t made? When we do that, we’re essentially saying that God’s day is inadequate.

When I woke up this morning, I could have looked to my left and thought of the faults of my wonderful wife. But this is the day that the Lord has made, and He made that day with her as my partner. Whatever flaws she might have, I’m supposed to rejoice and be glad in this day and with her.

One of the first things I said this morning after rising was “brrr,” as the temperature dipped into the low 30s last night. I could grouse about the weather, but it’s the weather in God’s day. My job and my face, my bank account and my family–all of these things could lead me to complain and then try to make myself happy outside of the day God made. But that’s not what the verse says.

I’m not calling here for complacency. There’s nothing to stop me from seeking a new job, trying to earn more money, or turning up the thermostat. I can attempt to help my wife and other family become stronger, better people. I’m not sure what I can do about my face. But regardless that’s tomorrow. Today, I’m called to rejoice and be glad in the day God gave me, a day that isn’t just a date but an entire set of situations.

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