Box; a container, case or receptacle, used for storing, and shipping. Boxes have purpose, they protect or preserve items, and make transportation of contents easier. Boxes serve for the most part no purpose once items inside of them are removed. What they contain is really what is of value. What is contained in them is normally pictured on the box or labeled. Without these labels it would be impossible to tell what is inside them and unless they were opened you would not know what they contain. So along with a box a label or picture is necessary to help in the process that the box serves.
Ok, well most of us know the purpose of a box, most of us are very aware that unless there is something inside the box it serves much of no value. We are also aware that the unless the items that are inside the box are taken out they serve no purpose.
Generally in life we box things. Our brains compartmentalize thoughts and ideas, this process is not unusual in any way, and is a common practice for most people. This process which allows our minds to work the way they do, to understand and comprehend our world; can help reduce stress, or produce it depending on how we box it.
Many of us have our ideologies and theologies of God in a box. Again, containers to hold or store something. These boxes of theology have their labels and they help us finite beings comprehend a very incomprehensible God. They serve a purpose to help us wrap our minds around our Creator and who he is and to retain certain truths about him. However, as stated earlier these boxes only preserve or assist in moving objects of value. This value can once again only be useful if we remove it from our box. Albeit, doing so takes much care, it must be removed so it can be of use. Or in terms of our theological understanding of God; so he can live , move and be who He is, not who we retain him to be.
God in a box is nice and neat, God out of the box is not. We know that Gods ways are not mans, and his way of doing things are strange to us sometimes, but this is who He is. God is not to be contained in neat orderly boxed theology, because he is much more than our label for him. In fact many Christians in their journey do not move forward in their comprehension and what Walter Brueggeman calls “orientation.”. In other words what people have always heard stated and understood about God is solely all that he is in that area. We box God to comprehend him, but in doing so limit our ability to grow in him and understand him on a deeper level.
The Psalms are a prime example of boxed and unboxed God. In the first third of the psalams we find the writers oriented a certain way, or have God understood according to their boxes. They thank him for creation, for his love, his majesty, and so on. The Psalms being constructed in such a way, turn from this orientation or boxed understanding of God, to a place of question in the second part of the Psalms.
These second of the thirds of the Psalms are called Lament Psalms. These Psalms are much different then the original ones where God is boxed. They are in fact laments about why God is not the way he should be according to their boxed understanding of him. These laments are truly questions about who God is, for their understanding of him has changed. Generally something happens in these Psalmist’s life that does not make sense. Many of us of course go through this season of life. But sadly, we do not question God. We come to the popular notion that God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. With having this mindset, we never question and therefore never practice what the Psalmist’s due in their laments. Which does not move us to the last third of the Psalms, or in fact the second part either.
The third section of the Psalms are generally called the Praise Psalms. These are much different then the original thanksgiving Psalms. For they are no longer Psalms about who God is, as our boxes state, but are about what God has done in their life after the questions. This is what Brueggeman once again calls “re-orientation.” In other words we understood God in our box one way, but now we understand him in a way that never could have fit our original box. God ended up doing something that was outside of our understanding of him. This deconstructing of our boxed theology, and process of lamenting can actually lead us to a new understanding/orientation of who he is.
So we praise him, hence why they are called praise Psalms. This reorientation process is and must continue throughout life. Why? Simply we will never fully understand the infinite creator we call God. He is beyond us, and we must not limit him with boxes, but allow Him to show us who He is and change our comprehension of him throughout our whole life. By taking the valuable out of the box and allowing it to be used, God can be who he is, that is; the one we will never quite understand.