Throw the Box Out!

by | May 31, 1999 | Church, Perspective

The legends of the Taj Mahal. They all fascinate, but there is one that haunts.

The favorite wife of the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan died. Devastated, he resolved to honor her by constructing a temple that would serve as her tomb. Her coffin was placed in the center of a large parcel of land, and construction of the temple began around it. No expense would be spared to make her final resting place magnificent.

But as the weeks turned into months, the Shah’s grief was eclipsed by his passion for the project. He no longer mourned her absence. The construction consumed him. One day, while walking from one side of the construction site to the other, his leg bumped against a wooden box. The prince brushed the dust off his leg and ordered the worker to throw the box out.

Shah Jahan didn’t know he had ordered the disposal of the coffin-now forgotten-hidden beneath layers of dust and time.

The one the temple was intended to honor was forgotten, but the temple was erected anyway.

Difficult to believe? Perhaps. But eerie nonetheless. Could someone build a temple and forget why? Could someone construct a palace, yet forget the king? Could someone sculpt a tribute and forget the hero?

You answer those questions. Answer them in a church. The next time you enter an assembly of worship, position yourself where you can see the people. Then decide.

You can tell the ones who remember the slain one. They’re wide-eyed and expectant. They’re children watching the unwrapping of a gift. They’re servants standing still as a king passes. You don’t doze in the presence of royalty. And you don’t yawn while receiving a gift, especially when the giver is the king himself!

You can also tell the ones who see only the temple. Their eyes wander. Their feet shuffle. Their hands doodle, and their mouths open-not to sing, but to yawn For no matter how hard they try to stay amazed, their eyes start to glaze over. All temples, even the Taj Mahal, lose their luster after a while.

The temple gazers don’t mean to be bored. They love the church. They can cite its programs and praise its pastors. They don’t mean to grow stale. They put on hats and hose and coats and ties and come every week. But still, something is missing. The one they once planned to honor hasn’t been seen in a while.

But those who have seen him can’t seem to forget him. They find him, often in spite of the temple rather than because of it. They brush the dust away and stand ever impressed before his tomb-his empty tomb.

The temple builders and the Savior seekers. You’ll find them both in the same church, on the same pew-at times, even in the same suit. One sees the structure and says,

“What a great church.” The other sees the Savior and says, “What a great Christ!”

Which do you see?

The Applause of Heaven

copyright [Word Publishing, 1996] Max Lucado, p. 121-123.

Used by permission

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