“Lost Keys”

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I would like to share some thoughts with you from a book by Tish Harrison Warren called Liturgy of the Ordinary. She writes:

I have a plan for my morning—run by the store to pick up a side for dinner and some dish soap, then head to a meeting. So after I brush my teeth and get
dressed quickly and eat breakfast, I throw on my favorite corduroy coat, hoist my computer bag over my shoulder, and head toward the door. I go to grab the car keys on the entry table that we bought (and painted robin’s egg blue) for the express purpose of having a spot for keys. Next to the jar of dried lavender and stack of mail are two key rings that hold the keys to the car, the house, and our
neighbor’s house, as well as a couple of others the purpose of which I’ve forgotten (but I keep holding on to them because you never know).

Cue the sound of screeching brakes. The keys aren’t there. I check the side pocket of my bag, then the pants I wore yesterday, then my bag again. I start to panic
a little. I take off my coat. I walk into my kitchen and look on the counter.
I have lost my keys. With them goes all sense of perspective. With them goes my plan; with them goes my cool. These instruments that I use for security
and freedom—to lock out bad guys and get where I need to go—have suddenlybecome a means of imprisonment. I’m stuck. Where could they be?
I go through my Stages of Searching for Lost Objects.

Stage 1. Logic. I retrace my steps. I look in the places that make sense. I breathe. I try to remain calm and rational. This is not that big of a deal. They’ll turn up.

Stage 2. Self-Condemnation. As I make my way through each room, scanning shelves and surfaces, I begin to self-flagellate under my breath: “I’m such an idiot. Where did I put those keys? Why am I such an idiot?”

Stage 3. Vexation. I get frustrated. I curse. Each second that passes leaves me slightly angrier. I switch back and forth between blaming myself and blaming others. Did Jonathan take them? I text him. No help there. God must know where my keys are. Why isn’t he helping here? I’m having a mild theological crisis over a two-inch piece of metal.

Stage 4. Depression. I start looking everywhere, even places that don’t make sense. I’m rummaging through random drawers and looking under beds,
checking the pants pocket that I’ve already checked three times, grumbling.
I check the time. It’s been nine minutes.

Stage 5. Last-ditch. I stop and pray. Okay, breathe. I tell myself that I’m being ridiculous, that, I’m overreacting. I quickly ask God for a restoration of perspective. I remember that a Catholic friend once told me to ask Saint Anthony to pray for us when we’ve lost something. So, for good measure, I murmur as I check my sock drawer, “Uh, Saint Anthony, not sure how this works, but if you
can hear me, can you please pray for me to find my keys?”

Stage 6. Despair. I give up and plop on the couch. I will never find my keys. The cause is hopeless. I am hopeless. I will be trapped here until the end of time or until we shell out money to replace them. Outside the window, by my locked car, are naked trees and hopping sparrows, but I will not notice. Everything is worthless. The morning is ruined. Stupid keys. Stupid me. Stupid planet. Stupid

Then a bit ashamed and guilty about my overreaction, I pull myself together and, beginning at step one, repeat the cycle. Seven minutes later, I find my
keys under the couch. I have no idea how they got there. I yelp to no one in particular, “Found them!”

Cue the Hallelujah chorus. I quickly move on. Out the driveway. Skip the grocery store and head straight to the meeting. My lost keys ended up being a hiccup in the day, no big deal, a tiny, forgettable 15 minutes. But it was also the apocalypse.

Apocalypse literally means an unveiling or uncovering. In my anger, grumbling, self-berating, cursing, doubt, and despair, I glimpsed for a few minutes, how tightly I cling to control and how little control I actually have. And in the absence of control, feeling stuck and stressed, those parts of me that I prefer to keep hidden were momentarily unveiled.

I love this story, and I think we can all relate to it. It’s not just about the stupid things we do and the not so helpful ways we react to our mistakes and stupidity—it’s about our loss of control. We all think we have more control over our lives than we do.

We work hard to do the right things to provide ourselves with security, comfort, and control over our lives—but it’s all really an illusion. My brother, Ted, has done very well for himself. He has had a successful career, is well off financially, and has always taken care of his body—and then out of the blue he
comes down with pancreatic cancer. We all know people who have had tragic things happen to them— through no fault of their own. And I’m sure we all have experienced the loss of control brought on by sickness, broken marriages, loss of jobs, or the death of a loved one.

We cling to the illusion that we are in control of our lives—at least most of the time. But the reality is we have very little control. This is where our faith must come into play. We must trust that God is in control.

And when our lives seem to spin out of control we need to have faith in our loving heavenly Father. He promises to not only be with us every step of the way but also to help us in every way. Whatever difficult things this new year has in store for us—let’s trust that God will be with us and help us through it. If we hold on to God’s hand and walk into the future with Him—He will replace our fear
with His amazing peace.

Pastor Tom