Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Box of Secrets

Dallas peeked through the door into the crowded hallway. “Should I go in, or go back home, or go…someplace else?” Dallas debated the question for several moments as he watched the crowd of smiling church-goers hurrying to their various Sunday School classes. “Look at them,” he thought. “They seem to be so all-together. Not like me. Not like me at all.” Dallas heaved a tired sigh, and shook his head. “What am I even doing here?” he muttered. “Why did I bother to come? I don’t belong here.”

Leaning against the wall just outside the door, Dallas closed his eyes. The fact was that even though he didn’t feel like he belonged, somehow he knew he needed to be there. “I need answers,” the young man finally whispered. “I need help. Nothing else I have tried has worked. Maybe, maybe I can find the help I need here…at church.” 
Image found here

The young man struggled to open the door as he balanced a box on one hip. It was a rather ordinary cardboard box, about the size of a college dorm refrigerator, and was obviously filled with something quite heavy. Dallas got one foot into the opening, and with his shoulder, carefully forced the door open wide enough to allow him to pass through with the heavy box.

He had barely made it halfway down the hallway when he heard a familiar voice. “Hey Dallas! Good to see you!” It was Andy, one of his co-workers. “I didn’t know you came to this church.”

“Yeah, well, here I am.” Dallas shifted his load uncomfortably.

“What’s up with the box?” Andy asked casually.

“Nothing much,” Dallas answered without meeting Andy's eyes. “Just some stuff.”

Andy patted the top of the box, causing it to shift a bit in Dallas’s arms. “Looks heavy,” he commented.

“I suppose,” Dallas replied.

“Why don’t you just put it down for a bit and give yourself a rest?” Andy suggested.

“Oh I couldn’t do that,” Dallas stated flatly. “I never put this down.”

“How come?” Andy asked.

“If I put it down, someone might look inside it and see what’s in there…and I don’t want anyone to see what is in this box.”

“We-e-e-e-l-l-l, if that’s the way you want it, I guess that’s up to you. Sorry, I gotta go now. Catch you later.” With that, Andy hurried on down the hallway to find his Sunday School class, leaving Dallas standing alone in the middle of the now-nearly-empty hallway with his box of secrets weighing him down.


In the next several posts, we will be talking about secrets. In this story, Dallas could be anyone. He could be someone who hasn’t been to church in years, if ever, and does not yet have a relationship with Jesus. Or he could be someone who has attended church for years, but has been lost in the crowd. He may even have trusted Jesus as Savior, but there are some things in his life that he has not yet allowed to come into the light. In any case, these things weigh him down in a way that is every bit as real as a heavily loaded refrigerator box.

What might be in the box? What secrets might Dallas be carrying that weigh so heavily on him? Perhaps the secrets are things he has done of which he is ashamed - his own sin. Perhaps the secrets are things that others did to him that wounded and scarred him. Most likely, it is a combination of the two. 

In any case, Dallas has come to the church in hopes of finding help. Over the next several posts, we will do two things:
  1. We will take a look at THE CHURCH through Dallas’s eyes. We will meet several people—four in all—who represent different reactions someone carrying a “box of secrets” might encounter in the church. We have already met one of these people. Andy sees that Dallas is struggling with something, but he doesn’t even try to offer any help. If Dallas wants to carry around his box of secrets, that’s his business. No need for Andy to get involved. 
  2. We will also take a look at an encounter Jesus had with a woman whose box of secrets had just spilled out into the street. (John 8:1-12) We will see how His response compares to the responses we might encounter—or make ourselves. 
I hope that we all will take time to reflect on our own responses to others with their “boxes of secrets”.

Time for Reflection
  • Imagine yourself meeting up with someone who does not yet know Jesus. This person is carrying a “box of secrets”. How do you feel toward that person? Wary? Sympathetic? Critical? Compassionate?
  • What if the person with a “box of secrets” is someone in your church who has been a believer for a good while, but is still carrying burdens from the past? Are your feelings toward that person different than your feelings for the one who has not yet trusted in Jesus? Why or why not?
  • Ask Jesus to help you grow more like Him as you reach out to people carrying their own “boxes of secrets”.


  1. Everyday I deal with this as a teacher. What baggage are they coming through my door with. Sometimes their baggage is too much for me to deal with, other times I do my little part, all I know is that every kid has baggage. Adults hide it much better, which is why churches have to be very careful with how they handle subject matters.

  2. It is a difficult balance. Yes, the church does have to be careful how these things are handled. Is it possible, though, that the church might be so careful that we become phony? We'll explore what healthy openness might possibly look like in the next few posts.


Any thoughts on this post? I would love to hear from you.

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