I couldn’t find my keys this morning. That’s not unusual. It happens more often than I’d care to admit.
It’s Wednesday morning, and that means taking Molly to her school in North Albany while Fiona drops off Clover to a friend’s place en route to her relief teaching job in North-West Albany. Sounds convenient enough.
There was nothing amiss with this plan until I needed to hop in the car. Without keys.
I hunted all the usual places without success and made sure, just before she left, that she wasn’t about to drive off with my keys in the car she was driving.
It’s not as if I don’t have a designated place for my keys to live; there’s a red glass bowl on our bookshelf that makes an ideal resting place for them most times.
No. My problem is more fundamental than that. I don’t often drive my car (in the same way that I don’t often use my wallet!) So, if I can’t find my keys, it’s not about remembering what I was wearing last night or where I went when I first walked in the door from a day at the office. It’s a little more convoluted than all that. I need to retrace the tracks of my days until I get to a time in my past when I’ve needed to drive my car and, having done that, work out what was happening when I arrived home, and pick up the scent from there.
That all sounds simple, but it usually involves looking in a bunch of places while I’m getting my head ready for the re-trace.
I did find them. They were in the pocket of some jeans that I wore last Saturday night. We’d arrived home late with a girl who’d fallen asleep in the back of the car. I’d obviously shoved my keys in my pocket and concentrated on the task of child-to-bed transportation. Then I’d hung up my jeans to make the keys harder to find.
All this seems pretty mundane to be documenting but as Molly was reading Geronimo Stilton to me on the way to school this morning (must be audible, minimum of twenty minutes), I multi-tasked another thought.
The longer I wait before coming to Jesus, the longer I take before bringing Him my heart, soul, mind and strength, the more I forget who I am and where I was.
Worse, I go looking in places that I know I will never discover my identity because my journey to Jesus has been hijacked by stuff of lesser import. This is a little like looking in the toilet out of desperation just in case you dropped your keys there – you know the chances are all but zero, but you check all the same.
There’s an account of Paul speaking at the Areopagus in Acts 17. He’s speaking to a bunch of learned people who have all lost their keys and were trying to find them. Paul speaks in a language they might understand so that they’ll either remember where they left their keys or, more even better, discover that they have keys!
Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!
While it may occasionally seem the case, Jesus desire is not to hide his face from us, but to be found. He’s desire is greater still: that way might abide in Him. Locate ourselves in Him. Be a branch of His vine. His desire is that, despite our wandering heart, we’d find our rest in Him and abide.
I don’t even need to re-trace every step to know where I might have left Jesus. I need to find myself again. The one I am following is up ahead or right beside, not languishing on a park bench or hanging up in my wardrobe.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded,” James writes.
There’s a key right there. I come back to Jesus by allowing His kindness to draw me into a place of repentance and, at that moment, I find my keys. My contrition and humility before Him put me back in the way of the one that I declare Lord of all. He wants to be found in us.
He is not remote. He is near.
As it turns out, that’s usually true for my car keys as well.