Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Henry Lived and Died in a Box

By Gerald Cowan

    Henry suffered an affliction that left him permanently disfigured. His misfortune was obvious to everyone, and he was very sensitive about it. But being a kind and considerate person himself he quite naturally expected that others would be too. But people are not all alike. Some are curious. Others are thoughtless, and proud. Some are squeamish. And some can be extremely cruel, often deliberately and intentionally so.
    Time passed. Henry was embarrassed by the curious and offended by the thoughtless and careless. He was humiliated by those who let their squeamishness show. He was often angered by the proud and deeply wounded by the cruel. To escape he withdrew from association with most people and hid himself at home.
    More time passed. Henry had managed to build himself a sturdy box in which to live. He seldom came out of it and it was very difficult for anybody else to penetrate and enter. The floor of his box was made of sensitivity (it has a striking similarity to self-pity – although no one ever pointed that out to him). One of the walls was made of a very hard substance – shame. The second wall was a very hard, durable, self-replicating material – anger.   Wounded pride – a nearly impervious substance – made up the third wall. The remaining wall was a combination of fear, mistrust, and insecurity and of course it was the weakest part of the whole structure. The ceiling was made of a dense opaque material called self-justification, and almost no light passed through it into the man’s life. There was neither door nor window, and any cracks that appeared were quickly filled up with a very effective putty of bitterness and resentment.
    Henry never realized that hiding from what he was did not change what he was. He never understood that in order to be accepted for what he was he must also be willing to accept other people for what they are. He never found the faith or the courage to leave his box, his planned place of safety, his self-imposed prison. The box he built to isolate him and insulate him from the world of people was so effective that even God was not allowed to enter. So Henry’s box became Henry’s coffin.
    Everybody, whether he knows it or not, is building himself a box. What kind of box are you building for yourself?  Is there room in it for others, or only for yourself? Would anybody want to enter your box? Is there room in it for God? Is He welcome there? Would He want to enter it and be with you there? If your box is not fit for you or others or God, make sure you have a proper exit, a way out, lest it become your coffin.

 - Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

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