The box does not matter — the memories do

By Johnny O. Trail — During this season of quarantine, I have taken on projects that I have not had the time to complete.  One of these projects included cleaning out the garage.  Going through old boxes and other items that were quickly stowed away awoke memories from the past.  Among the fondest of those memories, was the re-discovery of my father’s old fishing tackle box.

Upon opening the box, it was determined that the contents were in a very rough condition.  My father rarely fished with artificial lures, so most of the items were hooks, sinkers, floats, and fishing line. The box had not been opened or used for about fifteen years, so the items were rusted and stuck to various parts of the box.

While it pained me to do so, I quickly determined that the box, and its contents need to be tossed into the trash.  As I placed the box into the trash receptacle, I felt a sense of guilt.  Then it occurred to me that the box itself did not really matter, however the memories that went along with the box did.

As a boy fishing with my father, we shared simple truths about life and had valuable “together” time. The time we spent fishing was irreplaceable and each moment had value because it left an indelible mark upon my life. At times we had deep, meaningful conversations about life situations and spiritual truths. There were laughs intermingled with our conversations, but the content was profound. The life lessons he shared have helped me and in turn have helped others.

Maybe I am odd, but I have enjoyed the time in quarantine with my family. I do understand that many are hurting from the effects of COVID-19 and the consequences thereof, but this stint has caused our family to have valuable moments that we might not have otherwise had. In some respects, we have been able to slow down and focus on the important things in life.

To that end, the most valuable thing that we can give our families is time.  When things return to normal in our nation, we will all be back in the “rat race” scrambling for our proverbial piece of the success pie.  We all need to slow down at times.  This is one of the reasons why God instituted the Sabbath rest.  Moses writes in Exodus 20:8-10 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.”

The Sabbath was given, in part, to avoid the idolatry of work.  When one considers the amount of mandatory rest that was given in the Old Testament, it becomes apparent that God wanted His people to “rest” (Genesis 20.11). If God understood the need for His creation to rest occasionally, should we not also stop, rest, and take stock of where we are at in life?

Even though we are not living under the Law of Moses, there are principles contained within the Law that are still valid today. The Apostle Paul points this out in Romans 15:4 when he says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” One can learn lessons about the requirements for the Sabbath and various other “rest periods” that are mentioned in the Bible.

While the observation of the Sabbath and the current quarantine are not exact parallels, some spiritual truths do emerge. The current situation allows parents to take advantage of the time they have with their children and families. Time is something we cannot possibly get back.

First, we can share spiritual truths with our family members.

Under the Old Testament Law, parents were required to instruct their children by the written word and by their examples. Deuteronomy 6:7 says,  “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”  This period of “sheltering in place” provides us with the time to teach from God’s word. May we always endeavor to do so.

This spell of quarantine will allow us to further instruct our children about following the Lord. Christian parents are required to do this.  Ephesians 6. 4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up i the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  If you have not already done so, why not engage your children with Bible study or daily Bible readings? We have enjoyed the times of Bible study in our home and some great interaction has emerged from reading God’s word.

Next, these last few weeks have resulted in being able to spend more time with our mates.

While this is not the case universally, I know that many people have been quarantined with their children and spouses. What if married couples took advantage of the time that they have together to re-connect and truly communicate?

As married people we sometimes need to remember what it was that drew us to our mates. Hopefully, the first attribute that attracted us to our spouse was their love for God and serving Him. Beyond that, we can focus on what initially kindled our love for them and reclaim a portion of that spark if we are willing.

As a part of repentance, the church at Ephesus was told to “remember” their first love (Revelation 2.4-5). While this “first love” is in reference to Christ, we might need to remember the positive attributes of the person we determined to spend our lives with “till death do us part.”  Being in quarantine, isolated from the world, that is something positive we can work on to strengthen our marriage.

While there are problems with being quarantined, there are also potential blessings if we look for them. We look forward to resuming a normal life routine but will miss this extra time that being quarantined as afforded us to reconnect with God and family.


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