“Experience is a great teacher, but she sends in terrific bills” – Minna Thomas Antrim (1861-1950).
Those of you who have followed this writing from the beginning may recall the recent ranting about locks and why they are necessary from Lock your doors! But Why? (2/29/2012). But once again, I have learned that I have learned nothing about making sure that I don’t lock myself out of something.
Tis true that any one of us humans who owns a key, has undoubtedly locked ourselves out of the lock in which that key fits. Most often the car taunts us with the keys hanging in the ignition, seemingly laughing at us as we try to paw our way inside. As the famous quote above eludes, many of us have paid the “terrific bill” that comes with sharing the personal embarrassment of keeping the locksmith in business. After nearly an hour of trying our own tricks to get in, this “master of his trade” comes in and gains entry to our car in mere seconds.
For me, this time it was the house, not the truck that added unnecessary befuddlement to my morning. Well, it was the truck too, but we’ll get to that in a minute. It seems I had learned nothing about assuring that I have the keys before locking myself out, but I did manage to remember the most important lesson of life – stay calm and pray.
With two boys in tow, a diaper bag, shopping list as to not spend too much money, coupon box for the same reason, and wallet we were ready for a trip to the store. So I thought. As soon as I shut the front door, I realized that the keys were hanging two inches from the door – inside the house.
Oh, and did I mention that the sky was quickly becoming a looming gray with droplets of rain sure to follow. Panic ensued!
I began checking to see if maybe the backdoor had hopefully been left unlocked. As I did this, I made mental note of all the windows that were shut and locked from the inside. And as mentioned above, I couldn’t get in the truck either, because the source to open the truck door is on the same key ring, locked in the house.
With no toolbox unlocked, I began the well-known popular dance that has not made an appearance on any shimmying with public icons TV programs, aka “the credit-card shuffle.” With the two boys staring at me, wondering what the heck Dad was doing and why, I ruined what had been a perfectly useable grocery tiger discount card.
One of the boys asked what I was doing and when would we finally go to the store, and I remembered the biggest lesson my life and experience has taught me – I took a deep breath and began to pray.
First I thanked God for everything He has given me, my family, my church and church family, my home and truck. Even though I couldn’t get into them, I know that many people don’t even have keys to lock themselves out of things that go along with keys. Then I asked God for the calmness I needed and for the ability to figure out what I needed to get back into the house. Yes, a selfish prayer. But God hears all of our prayers, regardless. Following this, I calmly began looking around for something to help me get in. Just as if God, “the master of His trade,” had laid it in my hand Himself, I found exactly what I needed to get us safely back inside. And this all happened just before the sprinkles started, too.
I started thinking about what I would learn from this experience. First, I thought: I made it back into the house, I will get a spare and hide-a-key box to place somewhere outside to make sure that I was never locked out again. Then God’s message came to me: It had been locked up like an impenetrable fortress, just as I had once locked my own heart from allowing God inside. But He got into my heart anyway!
There were consequences for locking myself out, just as there are consequences for not allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives, as well as our savior. For one, there was the purchase of the hide-a-key and spare key to go in it. These little items I bought are magnetized inside my house. I look at it every day and think, “That might help me get in, if only I would place it outside the house.” Also, I had to replace the lock and doorknob, which aren’t cheap little purchases when you’re not planning on replacing them.
But the consequences of not allowing God to penetrate our hearts and lives are far greater than the cost of a new lock. I know that personally, because I wasted years of my life trying to be in control and live my way, only to discover that I had made many mistakes with costs I couldn’t have fathomed before committing them. But I ended up right where I should’ve been the whole time – at the foot of the Cross.
At the foot of the Cross is Jesus’ blood which brings forgiveness of sin; His redemption from the life and mistakes I’ve made; correction for my past thoughts, actions and ways. All of those things and more are there for all of us. Those things are there for you.
I had closed my heart like a book, or sealed it shut as a locked house. Many of us do. Obviously we try to keep weather, natural disasters, thieves and other unwanted guests from breaching our homes. But unfortunately, many of us put up the same barriers against Jesus Christ. We all, even Christians, have blockaded Him from having full reign of our lives.
Following Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples many times.
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and my hand into His side, I will not believe it” – John 20:24, 25 (New International Version).
Thomas, just like we do, had built up hurdles that kept him from fully believing in Christ’s resurrection. The only way Thomas could overcome his obstacle was to see Jesus with his own eyes and touch Him with his own hands.
Regrettably, some of us humans are still that way today. We can’t give in and believe in what we can’t see – what can’t be explained with Earthly wisdom. Thomas was a locked house – an impenetrable heart. Are you a locked house? Do you have an impenetrable heart?
A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”—John 20:26 – 28.
We build up our defenses and try to keep Him out, but Jesus can penetrate our hearts; He can break through our barriers. He can unlock our locks and unblock our obstacles. Jesus can open our hearts and read its pages.
He wants to be in all of our hearts; in all of our houses.
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen me yet have believed.”
Father God, I ask you to help us all to believe and then to see! Amen!