The Box

THE_BOXIn the old movie, Cool Hand Luke, starring the late Paul Newman, whenever a prisoner would get out of line, he would be sentenced to time in “the box.” That meant solitary confinement in a cramped, sunless, lightless, sweltering hot space.

That’s serious punishment.

In the box, a prisoner is deprived of sights and sounds. He loses track of the passage of time and the rhythm of day and night. Worst of all, he is completely cut off from human community.  Suspended in lonely disorientation, a prisoner’s mind can become susceptible to strange suggestions and bizarre hallucinations.

I’ve never been sentenced to solitary confinement. I’ve not had to endure the horrors of such agonizing isolation.

But I’ve spent time in “the box.” I have actually volunteered to subject myself to solitary confinement by withdrawing into the box of my own mind, quickly becoming disoriented in the dark, confined space of my own reasoning.

Isolated from the community of friends, and detached from the reality of a personal and present God, I can lose contact with reality, becoming hyper suggestible to lying delusions.

The enemy knows this. He loves the box.  “He’s alone. It’s time to go to work.” And he has.

Suddenly, I’m in an Inception-like dream state, with false worlds rising up out of nowhere, forming what appears to be solid reality. But the scenery around me is constructed by enemy deception. The false structures are built with the raw materials of: my fear, anxiety, doubt, cynicism, and self-contempt. My solitary mind has taken me on some really bad trips while I’ve been confined to the box.

Inevitably, it’s a person who draws me out of the box, a person who rescues me from my solitary confinement by inviting me into fellowship with them. And when they do, I feel just like Paul Newman, shielding my eyes from the sun while emerging from my dark prison into a bright reality illuminated by truth. Ultimately, God is the Person who delivers me by drawing me out through the community that He inhabits.

I confess that, over my lifetime, I’ve spent far too much time in the box. But in recent years I’ve become aware of the dangers of this trap, and alert to the schemes of the enemy to lure me into it.

I’m happy to say I’m doing a lot less voluntary time in solitary confinement these days.

How about you? Have you ever spent time in the box?

5 thoughts on “The Box

  1. I saw this quote on Twitter today after reading your blog: “Nothing makes temptation more powerful than isolation.” ~ John Ortberg Certainly ties in with what you wrote, doesn’t it?
    And yes, I’ve spent time in my own little box (my head) — too much time. Like you wrote, it’s community — healthy relationships with others — that frees me.

    • John Ortberg’s words are spot on. Thanks for sharing. You are good with quotes. You should do something with that 🙂 I am thankful for the relationships through which God is working to change me from an every-day box-dweller to a not-so-frequent visitor.

  2. Hey Uncle Dave!
    This blog hits so close to home for me. Especially in the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt myself go into the box more and more often. Most of the time, I let myself get led there because I think I’m being introspective or I’m giving myself “alone time” (like we introverts need). However, I have been easily letting Satan hijack those times and change them into… well chaos, anxiety, discouragement. But, I’m becoming more and more aware of when I’m going into the box and working on changing course and choosing more “active” things to do with my time.

    Thank you for this blog today! God always uses you as such an encouragement.


    • Hey, Amy! I know what you mean. I went through a long and agonizing season when even my prayer time morphed into box time. My ‘inner room’ became my ‘rubber room’ when I would move from engaging a personal God to analyzing my relationship with God to thinking about God as an abstraction. From that place, the enemy could lead me anywhere in an endless labyrinth of destructive thought. Let’s stay aware of, and engaged with, the person who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thank you for sharing from your own experience.

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