I found a box in my closet.

It’s an old, black, metal box, and it’s got the word “JUNK” written on construction paper plastered to the front. I used to hoard junk in it, I really did. Pack-rat scrunge. But now it’s full of cards, mementos, letters from old girlfriends, a rabbit’s foot with the hair falling off, a button from a family trip to the Big Apple. As I flipped through it all, my heart was gently drawn through a portal in time to reflect on what’s important. After all, not just anything made it into that box. But a few of those items felt downright holy to me. Windows into my childhood soul. And God spoke to me through them. Here are just a few:

1. A home-made card from Frank and Christine. My youth sponsors during a time when I had no use for youth group, God, or anything worthwhile. The card is tacky. A Bible verse is written on the front. But they signed it, “We’re praying for you.” Now, you have to understand, Frank & Christine weren’t “cool” like I was. They weren’t flashy, big speakers. They just loved me and my friends, a lot. And prayed for us during a season when it looked like we might not ever come to faith or return their love. They listened to our primal cries for help through the venom in our words. And their tacky little card made it into my special box. Cause God answered their prayers. Thank you, Jesus, for Frank and Christine.

2. Letters to and from old crushes. Becky, Kim, Sonia, Colleen, Carolyn. True love, I thought. They all made my knees go weak and my heart pound and filled my dreams with first kisses and hand holding and futures as bright as heaven itself… and all of them passed me by. All I have to show for those old flames are a few dog-eared cards, blush-worthy notes and naive promises. Reminding me that my heart can be fickle, and fickly drawn into prickly distractions. Mmmmm.

3. Sports awards. I was by no means a star athlete or one of those studly jocks with a bimbo hanging off each bicep (though I did dream of being that guy, on more than one occasion). But… I was on a volleyball team in grade nine that won the city championship (I was the seventh man, the first sub… and I actually served 15 straight points one game, one of the few games I started). There was also some track and field stuff, a ribbon or two from the year I placed third in our division in shot put and discus. That stat made it into the local paper, which I cut out and put into my special box, though it had lain forgotten for decades now. It felt so important then. Like it defined me. I guess not. I’m working for higher rewards now, I hope.

4. My grade twelve chapel speech. I went to a private Christian high school and came to Christ my senior year. There was a serious party problem that year, where droves of kids claiming to be Christians were getting royally hammered on the weekends. My speech hit that issue head on, not even two months after my own conversion. I actually kept that speech, and wrinkled letters from two students thanking me for being so bold. Bold? I’ll say. I took a deep breath that day, and then let them have it. I mean, this thing took GUTS. But I was also struck with the humility in my words. Admitting my own hypocrisy and shortcomings, especially the year before. I realized that my special box had preserved the red-hot record of my first courageous stand for Christ. I’d like to think I’m still on that track, and it felt good to see that it was already materializing that early in my faith journey.

Thanks for listening.