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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pennington

The Value of Lost Keys

An entry from 2017:

I lost my keys again this morning.

It is a fairly common occurrence, almost daily in fact. But today it took longer to find them than usual. I did not use my car yesterday, so that extra day in the house must have given the keys time to get good and lost (if ever there was a case of walking keys, it would be mine). Also, my daughter, who seems to have a gift for finding things that I lose, was at a friend's house.

So I was on my own. Worse yet, I was already behind schedule. Why is it that when I am in the biggest rush I end up taking four times as long to do the things that need to get done right away?

One might argue that one measly key is worth next to nothing. With a quick trip to the local hardware store or Walmart I could reproduce almost any key I own in under five minute for less than $2.00. To be completely honest, I have lost count of the number of keys I possess that seem to have no purpose at all.

Well, this morning that car key was worth much more to me than a cheap, reproducible piece of metal. It meant the difference between my staying home and going out. It also marked the difference between a day of boredom and lethargy and a day of purpose and fun. As I began to feel frantic after not initially finding my car key, I thought it might even make the difference between peace of mind and insanity.

You see, my husband is out of town with the only other copy we have of that key. So there was only one key made to accomplish the two specific purposes of unlocking and starting my car. And without that key to accomplish its very specific purpose, I could not get out to accomplish my goals and purposes for the day. This morning that piece of tin meant enough to me that I dropped everything else I was doing to search until I found it.

If one key could matter that much to me, then how much more must each and every human being matter to God?

In Luke 15 Jesus shares three stories to illustrate God's immense, self-sacrificing love for each and every one of us. Like a good shepherd," God would leave the rest of the 100 sheep flock to focus on just one lost sheep who has gone astray. Like a mistress of the household who has lost a day's wages, God would abandon all else to search for one missing coin, even with nine other coins available. Like a father, God would focus and celebrate over the return of a wayward child, even as the faithful child continues to work in the fields.

These actions may at first seem illogical, or even inconsiderate. I mean, who would risk losing 99% of the flock, the "good sheep," to go after the one that is known to stray? Instead of racking one's brain over a missing 10% of wages, why not focus on investing the 90% that is there? And why step away from the loyal worker to reward the son who has squandered half your wealth and basically told you that you were dead to him?

Thankfully, we serve a God who can be everywhere at once, a God who can go after the lost without ever abandoning the faithful. But that's not really what these parables are about. They are all about the lost keys. (I realize that I just explained a parable with a parable, but please bear with me for a second.)

Like keys, God makes every single person with a specific design and purpose. Unlike keys, God does not ever make cheap copies. There never has been, nor will there ever be, a person exactly like me with the specific design and purposes has placed into my life. The same is true for every person reading this, and for every person who will never read this. It is easy to look at a crowd of people like a bucket of random keys. But God sees the doors that every key can open. The fact that no one else will ever fit the exact function that we were created to fill makes us all the more valuable.

It grieves God when we stray from the special gifts and callings for which we were created. It grieves God when we live in a state of perpetual blindness, confusion, guilt or anger. This is not because God needs us to get things done. The creator of the universe can do anything in less than a blink, with or without us. It's about sharing the joy.

What parent (or grandparent or teach or mentor) doesn't swell with joy and pride when they see a child begin fulfilling their potential and grow in healthy ways? I'm so glad that my heavenly Papa loves me so much, and I pray that each person reading this will become more and more aware of God's special plan and purpose for your life.

Update: After what seemed to me like an eternity (probably 20 minutes or so), I did eventually find my keys on that very morning. I discovered that while deciding on what to wear earlier that day I had somehow managed to throw an unwanted article of clothing right on top of them on my dresser. Did I rejoice when I found them? Oh yes. Did I thank the Lord for guiding me to the keys' secret location and saving my day? Absolutely! Will I ever again lose my keys? I would be shocked if I didn't. After all, I am a mess, God's anointed mess.

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