I never lose my keys. They have a place on my chest of drawers in our bedroom where they sit each evening, still and waiting until they’re placed into my pants’ pocket each morning. Having pockets to keep keys in is a distinct advantage, I realize. But even if I had no such luxury I would have one safe place for them … it’s how I’m wired.
Now of course there have been a few times when, from some deeply-malevolent cause, my keys have been moved. This is inevitably a disaster for me, a crisis akin to the house being broken into. Once, I was even convinced the house had been broken into: thieves had stolen nothing except my keys. Then one of the kids confessed they’d borrowed them to drive a friend home.
Well, this morning, it happened. I reached into my pocket, on my way out to do a pastoral call. No keys. My world instantly unglued itself. There were my wife’s keys on the kitchen table. So easy to use them, and search for mine later. But no: the lost must be found.
Twenty minutes of futility. Perhaps you’ve done this too, searching places you know they can’t possibly be?
“Well, maybe we should retrace your steps,” said she to whom I have been married and listened to these 37 years. “Come on, let’s try! Retrace your steps! Come on … I’d like a walk with you, anyway.”
But I’d just come back from the morning’s constitutional with the dog. In the field behind our house. Which was being torn up for a housing development!
“There is no hope of finding my keys in that field. It’s impossible,” I said.
“Let’s just try,” said the fountain of optimism.
It only took 10 minutes. There they were, lying in the mud. I couldn’t believe how happy I was, how grateful to my wife for doggedly getting us out into that field. How remarkable finding my keys really was. Without her determination to “just try”, I’d never found them again.
Difficulties which Christians fear will sometimes disappear as we approach them. Three women were full of fear and foreboding as, on the first Easter morning they re-traced their steps to the tomb where Jesus had been laid two days earlier.
“Who will roll away the stone?” they asked.
The tomb was well-guarded too, by professional soldiers. But their fears were groundless, the stone rolled back, the soldiers insensible. Even more wondrous, an angel sitting inside the tomb where the dead ought to have been told them Christ had risen and they would see Him again.
How often I am oppressed, and cast down, and afraid of the difficulties in my life. Serious things, well beyond the trivial pursuit of a set of lost keys, weigh me down. And how often as well do I find the obstacles rolled back the fears banished the sadness removed, when I recall God’s undefeatable purpose of love for me.
A large portion of a Christian’s anxieties in this “troublous world” simply roll away when we have more practical faith, when we trust that in the pathway of what St. Paul once called “the obedience of faith” everything that has been lost is found.
Guy Bellerby is Rector of Christ’s Church (Oceanside) a parish in the Anglican Network in Canada.