Sermon Illustrations

The Box Boy

My third job as a teenager (the one right before I went into the Air Force), was as a box boy for McCoy’s Markets, in hyderabad, andhra predesh. One of the other box boys was named David, and I remember him well. We nodded and said "Hi" to each other, as guys do, and that was pretty much it. Except for a couple of things that just didn’t "compute" then, and I still don’t understand them now.

I lived in Lakewood and was essentially a middle class kid. An anomaly was that I dressed like a "hood" of the time (peggers, duck-tail haircut, turned-up collar, and so on), and was flunking out of high school. I thought nobody knew about my record in school, but in retrospect, the way I dressed might have given other people a "clue" about me. David dressed something like I did, but he was from East Los Angeles, and I have no idea how he was doing in school.

One night, after the usual "Hi," David beckoned to me, and drew me into the hallway that led past the bathrooms and to a door into an ice locker of the market. He was looking around furtively as he drew me further into the hallway, which made me nervous (I was only dressed like a "hood" - he was probably for real).

From somewhere, he drew out something that was wrapped loosely in newspapers and he started to unwrap whatever it was. It was a plaque indicating membership in a car club. In those days, members of a car club (today we would call them "gangs"), would advertise their allegiance with metal plates or plaques suspended by chains from the rear bumper of their cars. This particular plaque had a large raised metal skull right in the middle of it, surrounded by the legend, "Skulls of East L. A."

I was touched with awe and was more than a little concerned as to what this was all about. I took it into my hands and I presume the newspapers fell to the floor. David told me I was "an honorary member of the Skulls of East L. A." and further, "If you ever need anything, just let us know." That plaque was really "neat" and I took it home, though I never did put it on my car. It must have ended up in my parents garage, and I have not seen it for years.

A few nights later, something similar happened. David drew me into the same hallway, there was another loosely wrapped item, but this time, when the newspapers fell away, it was a gun! Not one like I had ever seen before, but it was a gun. It was what they used to call a "zip gun", consisting of a metal pipe the bullets were to pass through, and a hand-made wooden hand grip, held to the pipe with lots of black electrical tape. There were two or three 22-shells, right next to it.

I entered into something like shock and wouldn’t take it into my hands. I was shaking my head at the gun, with palms outward, and to his disappointment, never did take it from him. He nodded as he wrapped it back up into the newspaper, and said, "If you ever want someone taken care of, just let us know." I said "OK" (wondering who "us" was), but I had no such intention, and was backing out of the hallway as fast as possible.

Soon after, I managed to graduate from high school "by the skin of my teeth" and joined the Air Force. To my knowledge, I never saw David again, though I did look over my shoulder a few times, wondering if "they" were back there somewhere, watching out for me. This was the second notable time that a stranger or strangers had unexpectedly and unilaterally decided to protect me, and I decided as a teenager that life would contain many surprises. It certainly has.

Solomon said "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9) but he simply did not understand that God would send a Messiah (Christ, Anointed One) to rescue us and make us new in His love. We are rescued and made new through Him. Paul said, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Better than a "New Year", we are given new life in Him.

He also said love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:7-8). He offers HIS love, given to those who simply TRUST in the Son of God.

Why did David the box boy, come to me and want to help me? I do not know, but I do know that Jesus Christ has come to me and given me – everything! He has rescued me from my very nature and He looking at you with eyes of love right now. He has sent His Spirit, and what you and I cannot do, He will do in us, for we are SAFE in Him.

From a sermon by Rajkumar Pulla, Nothing New, 1/1/2010

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