What’s more fun than watching kids rambunctiously jumping inside an inflatable bounce house?…watching 5 men attempting to deflate and pack it away. The other day I had just such a privilege. One of the men from Scott’s Bible study class was hosting an end of class cookout. Since wives and families were invited, they set up their amazing bounce house in the yard. It was about the size of a large walk in closet and perfect for keeping the kids entertained. As the evening came to a close the men offered to help put the bounce house away. I watched as they disconnected the motorized air compressor and the once large castle shaped structure withered to the ground. The men stood pondering the bounce house, which by now resembled a puffy pile of pancakes. One by one they began to offer suggestions for getting the rest of the air out and various folding techniques. Eventually a method was decided upon. They took turns plopping onto the deflated object and rolling from side to side, squeezing the remaining air out just as one might expel toothpaste from its tube.
Once the house was sufficiently flat and air free they took on the task of folding/rolling it into the size needed for its storage box. The endeavor resembled a corporate team building exercise. This vision of good communication and cooperation was jolted a bit askew when I overheard one of the task masters proclaim, “It’ll fit, just step on it!” Indeed they were at last successful in returning the bounce house to its original shape and size. I myself have not always had such success with returning things to their original size or shape. I met my match numerous times as I wrestled with sleeping bags. These wonderfully portable sleeping cocoons seem to double in size once removed from their original packing. My attempts at tightly rolling them seldom resulted in being able to actually tie the attached strings. Eventually I would give up and cram them into old pillow cases or use bungee cords, but they would never be close to the size they were on the store shelf.
Some things are meant to not return to their original containers. I will never forget the time my daughter, then only about 7yrs old, was trying to help with dinner. Using a can opener she carefully opened a can of Pillsbury dough biscuits. Yep, you guessed it…upon hearing a loud pop I hurried into the kitchen to find a startled young lady holding a can opener which was engulfed in dough protruding out of a partially opened can. There are just some things in life which do not lend themselves to returning to the confines of the well defined walls of a box or container. That does not stop me from trying to squeeze, flatten, roll, fold, or even “step on” things in an effort to get it back in a box. I like containers with defined walls. I like how easy it is to keep things in order, my order. I like how I can predict where I will find them; they will stay in the box. I like knowing I can hide the box. I choose when the box will be opened and what will be shared. If I know it’s in a container I can plan how to use it or store it. I like the control I feel when things can be returned to a defined container or original box.
Sometimes we struggle to put God back in a box. We want to define His boundaries, keep Him within the limits of our understanding, and squeeze Him into our personal expectations. But like the bounce house, sleeping bag and dough…God is not about staying in the box. My God is not containable! He left the space of the heavens for the confines of a womb, but He would not stay there. He left the comfort of the womb for the limitation of being flesh, but He did not stay there either. He left borders of this hardened world for the walls of a stone carved tomb, but PRAISE GOD He did not stay there either!