Sunday, November 24, 2013

Box of Secrets - Dallas Meets Alan

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In the first post of this series, Andy was no help to Dallas with his box of secrets. He didn’t even try to help.

In the second post, we looked at Jesus’s response to a woman whose own box of secrets spilled out into the street for all to see.

Next, Dallas allows Chris to get a glimpse into his box. The reaction was not pretty.

In the previous post, Dallas meets Celine. This kind and gentle, woman does nothing to help Dallas deal with his box of secrets.

Is there no one who will meet Dallas as Jesus met the woman caught in adultery? In this final post of the “Box of Secrets” series, we will see what happens in one final encounter.


Meanwhile, Back at the Church…

Dallas sat dejectedly on the floor in the hallway outside the Sunday School classroom where Celine had disappeared moments before. With his legs stretched out in front of him and his head resting on his arms that were crossed on top of the box, he was the picture of discouragement.

“What am I even doing here?” he whispered. “No one can help me. I hoped someone could help me, but…”

Slowly, Dallas became aware of a shadow blocking the light from the window across the hall. He squeezed his eyes shut for a few seconds and took a deep breath as he prepared himself for this newest encounter.

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Dallas looked up, not sure what to expect. He was surprised when a heavily-accented Australian voice greeted him. “G’day mate!” The tall, thin man squatting beside him said. “Name’s Alan. How’re ya goin?”

“Um…I’ve been better, I guess,” Dallas responded.

“Yeah, looks like it,” the man said. He took off the baseball cap he was wearing and stuffed it into his backpack. “Looks like you’ve got a bit of a problem there, mate.”

“Yeah, you could say that.” Dallas gave a small, humorless chuckle.

“Does the trouble have anything to do with that big old box you’re holding?”

“It has everything to do with this box,” Dallas admitted.

“How long have been carrying that thing around?” Alan asked.

“I can’t even remember.” Dallas answered. “Most of my life, I guess. Ifft’s getting heavier and heavier every day…and I don’t know what to do about it. For years, I’ve never let anybody see inside this box. I never wanted anyone to see my secrets.”

“Bummer,” Alan sympathized. “Ever try just putting it down, or letting someone help you figure out what to do with it?”

“I tried that…twice,” Dallas shot back.

“And how’d that go?”

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Dallas gave a soft snort of disgust and shook his head. “The first guy took one look and got all shocked and gave me a big lecture, and the second person tried to tell me that it wasn’t even a problem, and not to worry about it, but I KNOW this is a problem.”

“Do you really want to be free of all this?” Alan asked, motioning toward the box on Dallas’s lap.

Dallas was silent.

“Do you?” Alan asked again.

“I wish I could. I mean, I want to, but I’m not sure I can take another lecture…or someone trying to say everything is OK when it isn’t.”

“I know, mate, I know,” Alan said. “But are you game to try one more time?”

Dallas looked up doubtfully and studied Alan’s face. Could he be trusted? Or would trusting him be another mistake? Finally, he reached a decision. “OK, I’ll try…one more time,” he said.

“Good on you,” Alan responded. He reached out and grasped Dallas’s hand, pulling him to his feet. Dallas almost dropped his box, but managed to hold onto it.

The two men walked to one of the hallway windows that had a deep window ledge. “Why don’t you put the box down here and let me see what is inside it?” Alan suggested.

Dallas hesitated a moment, but finally placed the box on the ledge. With shaky hands, the young man opened the lid of the box. He stepped back, closing his eyes, ashamed of what was in there and afraid of what his new friend might say.

Alan took a long, serious look inside the box, and nodded his head. “Well mate, that is a heavy one.”

Dallas looked up in surprise. No lecture? No platitudes? This was different.

Alan continued, “There really is only one place you can go with a box of secrets like this.”

“Where is that?” Dallas asked.

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“To the cross,” Alan answered simply.

“The cross?”

“Yes, to the cross of Jesus. Why don’t you come with me a minute?”

Dallas closed up his box again and followed as Alan led him to a nearby room that had been set up as a small prayer room. In it were a bookshelf with several Bibles and hymn books, a couple chairs and a small table below a simple cross that hung on the wall. A red cloth and a white cloth was carefully arranged along the ledge at the foot of the cross.

“Why don’t you put that box down on the table?” Dallas did as Alan urged.

“That cross is just a symbol, you know. It doesn’t have any power by itself. It is what happened on the cross of Jesus so long ago that makes the difference.”

Dallas nodded. He had heard the story of the death of Jesus on the cross before.

“Now, if you are willing,” Alan suggested gently, “you can open your box right here, at the foot of the cross, and tell Jesus you don’t want to carry it anymore. Ask Him to set you free.”

Dallas studied the cross for a long moment. Then, with desperation and hope rising up together in his heart, in an act of confession, Dallas slowly opened the box, exposing the ugliness inside.

Alan smiled. “Jesus did a wonderful thing for you and me when He died on the cross. The blood He shed there covers over all our sins, all our shame, all our secrets that we carry in our boxes.” He took the red cloth that was arranged on the ledge and covered the box with it until the box could no longer be seen.

Dallas stood staring at the spot where his ugly burden had been, his eyes blurred by tears that threatened to spill down his cheeks.

“But Jesus didn’t stop there,” Alan continued as he pulled the white cloth over the red one. “He not only forgave us for our sins and washed away our shame, but He gave us new, clean hearts. That is what He did for you, Dallas. For you and me.”

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Dallas dropped to his knees, humbled and awed by such great love and forgiveness. Alan knelt beside him as Dallas talked with the One Who had set him free.

When at last, Dallas looked up with a light of hope and joy in his eyes, Alan helped him to his feet. They stepped back from the table and faced the cross.

“One more thing I need to tell you, mate,” Alan added. “You’re free now from your box of secrets. But later on, you may be tempted to start keeping a new one. Don’t do it. Keep close to Jesus. He died to set you free. He rose again to keep you free. With Him, you never need to carry a box of secrets again.”

Time for Reflection

As I said in an earlier post, this series isn’t really about encouraging people who are carrying their own “boxes of secrets” to open up those boxes. The main point of this series is to encourage us as the church to consider how we respond to others who let us see their boxes.

As this series concludes, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions in regards to your own response.
  • Do you refuse to engage, like Andy?
  • Do you react with shock and harsh judgment, like Chris?
  • Do you wash over the situation, and try to reason away the seriousness, like Celine?
  • Do you, like Alan, go with the person to Jesus, the only One Who can set them free? Do you respond with both parts of Jesus’ response:
 “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11b)

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