Thursday, October 02, 2003

Keys are important. They open doors. They unlock locks. They allow us into an “inner sanctum” denied to all but a few. If you own one of these sacred places and you want another key, no problem. You take your original key down to the hardware store, drop a couple of bucks on the counter, and they make you a new and identical one. Sometimes they even work. But if they don’t you just keep going back and they keep re-trying until eventually they get it right. This is one of the cool things about living in America. You can get your own place and only people that you want inside can get inside. And you can get them in cheaply.

This “law of the land” has been violated. My Mustang key cost $85.00. Each. I own three. I actually had to NEGOTIATE extra keys into the price of the car. How absurd is that? I use to negotiate on air conditioning or reclining seats. Those things now come as standard features. But if you want a new key … you have to deal.

You see, they put a special computer chip in these keys. When you put your key in the ignition something with mystical, magical, powers knows that chips is there. The engine is allowed to start. If you make a key without the chip it will only cost you maybe $2.00. But that key will only open the door. No way will it start the engine. No chippie chippie … no go-ee, go-ee. It’s called a “passive theft deterrent.” I think that is a good name for them. Passive thieves will no longer steal your car. They will not be bothered wasting time busting open your window, unlocking the door by hand, and hot-wiring the car. That is to active. So I have a “passive deterrent” on my car. That’s fine … as long as I don’t need any more keys.

When I gave Debbie a key to my Mustang she lost it within a week. It was my fault. I do not know why or how. But it was ruled that way. She found her key a few months later. All was well in the house again. And then I lost one of my keys. I always carry two car keys on me. One is too easy to loose. And, true to form, one of my keys turned up missing. I looked for weeks and did not tell anyone. No reason to give them cause to laugh. They seem to find enough reason to take pot-shots at me. I don’t want to help them along.

The key I lost had a worthless little blue laser light on its key chain. I say “worthless” because I never once used it. But it looked cool when you turned it on so I popped for the $3.95 in Target one day and bought it. I had not turned it on since. So now I was actually out $88.95, this being the cumulative cost of one key and one laser light.

But sometimes God has other ideas. Sometimes He wants to teach me something. Call it a “Holy Pop Quiz” if you will. He never puts it on my schedule or asks my permission. He just does it. I know God well enough to pray and ask for help with a problem. And so I prayed about my key. I prayed about it for maybe … oh… 10 times. Then I put the thought away. If God cannot hear me in 10 attempts either He isn’t listening or He said “no.” I can live with that. I asked. He answered. Good enough for me.

And then the rain came.

It had proven to be a boring Saturday afternoon. Rain on Saturday is wrong. It should be against the laws of nature. But it is not. I believe that statistics would prove that it rains more on Saturdays than on any other day of the week. But I digress.

It was raining. It’s a fact. I was sitting on my mega-cushy-chair eating re-heated pizza. I was watching a ball game. Upon finishing the pizza I walked through the dining room toward the kitchen. I simply wanted to put my dirty dishes in the dish washer. As I was praying that the dish washer would contain dirty dishes (so that I would not have to empty it before putting mine in) I glanced outside into the front yard to see if it was still raining. It was. Hard. As I turned to walk away, something in the grass caught my attention. Something … blue. Bright blue. Electric blue. I made a mental note about the oddity of that and went on to the dishwasher. As I returned to my chair I checked again. It was still there. A bright blue, glowing, something-or-other. Hmmmm.

I went into my bedroom to get my binoculars. They were nowhere to be found. So I did the next best thing. I grabbed my rifle. It’s a mere .22 caliber semi-automatic with a 10X scope. Nothing to get excited about. I suppose in a pinch I could pick-off a squirrel a football field away but I had never wanted to. I removed it from its case, went into the dining room, stood on a chair, and took careful aim through the scope at the blue object. Sure enough. It was blue. And it was powered by something.

Debbie entered the room. Debbie does not like guns. No, wait. That isn’t strong enough. Debbie is horribly terrified of guns. She only let me buy mine because it was a family heirloom and my dad was about to unload it on an Arkansas policeman. (“Unload” as in “sell.” Not “unload” as in “Unload.”) He wanted a 9mm pistol so that he could … so that he could plug whoever came through his back door in the middle of the night. No matter that in 18 years NOBODY had tried to make an unauthorized entrance. His mind was made up. This wonderful rifle that I remember my mom giving him for Christmas 30 years earlier was going on the block. I beat the cop to the punch and bought my own family memory. Thanks a lot, dad.

Where was I… oh… Debbie entered the room. She let out a squeal much like … well, like a girl when she sees a gun. I had expected that.

I put the gun down and told her something was blue and glowing in our front yard. She pretty much didn’t care about that. She just wanted the rifle out of her dining room. That glowing blue thing could have been invading aliens from the center of the earth for all she cared. Just get RID of the stupid GUN.

So I did. And I went to the garage. I raised the door. I opened an umbrella. I ran into the grass. I looked down. I saw my car key. My $85.00 car key. It was attached to my $3.95 blue laser light. The light was on. It was pointed at my house. More specifically, it was pointed at my dining room.

It appears that several weeks ago I had dropped my key in the front yard. I mowed over it once or twice. It lay there, bothering no one. It was a dry month. There was no reason for it to be upset. And then it rained. It REALLY rained. It rained enough to penetrate the hard plastic case of the laser light. When the light fell it pointed directly at my dining room window. Or it didn’t. Maybe the lawn mower blade spun it until it pointed that way. Maybe somebody kicked it and it pointed that way. Maybe God reached down late one night and directed it Himself. Maybe He sent Michael the angel. I will never know. But it WAS pointing that way NOW. The water shorted out the wiring. The light came on. I finished my pizza. I looked out the window. I saw it. I found my key. My $85.00 key. What were the odds?

100%. It was God. Of course it was God. It is ALWAYS God. He orchestrates everything. He is in control of my life. Every event and every occurrence is sifted through His hands. There are no exceptions and no mistakes.

So why did God go to the trouble? He could have just allowed the event to teach me a lesson. “Be more careful with your keys, son.” That’s why my worldly dad would have done. Why did my Heavenly Dad go to all of the trouble?

The question isn’t that hard. He wanted me to relearn how much He loves me. He wanted to remind me that every little detail in my life is under His control. He wanted to put my mind and my heart at ease in the middle of difficult and tumultuous times.
And I think He just wanted me to smile. To not take life so seriously. You see, there are not many things I life I can fix. He planned it that way. He wants me to trust Him. Because when I trust Him I smile more And He likes it when I smile.

Isn’t God crazy? Yes, He is. He’s crazy in love with you and with me. If you’ve managed to lose your way in the current struggles of your life, don’t worry. He’ll leave the light on for you.