Ten o’clock Sunday morning, and we were ready to head out the door. We were on schedule to arrive 15 minutes early to church—unusual for us, on its own, and even more unusual considering I had singlehandedly gotten four children and myself ready for church. Not just “average-day” ready but looking nice!
My husband was playing guitar on the praise team for the first time at our church, and I was looking forward to hearing him play.
“Let’s go,” I announced. “Where are the keys? Who took the keys?”
No answer. Repeated a little more loudly and frantically this time, and the next, and the next… Finally, the culprit confessed (or his brothers confessed for him).
“Where did you go with the keys?” I asked, with increasing inflation in my voice (obviously not as calmly as I would have liked, if I could do it over).
“Outside, in the garage, and downstairs,” he responded.
Lots of ground to cover there.
Out I went to search, while urging the troops to come search with me. I wish I could say I acted like a loving coach motivating them to action, but it was more like a stressed-out mom on a rant about why we have rules that kids do not take keys, why we don’t lose keys, how we won’t be going anywhere until we find the keys, how we’ll probably be missing church and hearing Dad play guitar, and how we spent all that time getting ready and it was all a waste, since someone decided to run off with the keys and lose them.
We looked through the garage. Under and over things and in the minivan. We searched outside, around the house, the patio furniture, in the grass, in the window wells for the basement, and around again (I think I even checked in the mailbox). We searched downstairs. I searched the main floor and upstairs for good measure. No luck anywhere.
We spent the better part of 45 minutes looking. (The “better part” is an interesting phrase, since no part of those 45 minutes were in no way “better” than how I could otherwise be spending them.) I encouraged my son to pray and ask Jesus to help us find the keys. Crying, he said, “I did pray, but He’s not helping me, because I can’t…[out-of-control crying] find…the…keeeeyyyyyys [more out-of-control crying].”
My son was crying so hard that he summoned the attention of a neighbor, who came out to look at why this boy was wailing uncontrollably. Partly it was because he felt sad for losing the keys, but mainly it was because his sensitive spirit couldn’t stand that his mom was upset at what he thought was him, but was really the situation (good luck explaining that to a five-year old).
Finally, I gave up and sent everyone to their room. “If we aren’t going to church,” I said, “you aren’t playing” (in case it was a con to get out of going).
I went outside to read my Bible, reflect, and pray.
Here’s what I was thinking about:
- Just because I wasn’t spending those hours in church on Sunday morning didn’t mean I couldn’t worship God
- When you don’t get to use your time the way you thought you were going to use your time, how do you respond?
- What was God trying to show me through this?
- If I was upset that we were dressed up and looking nice but with nowhere to go (and no way to get there), is this not pride?
- If I was upset that I had spent my time getting everyone ready, which seemed to be a waste of time, was this not a trivial thing to stew about?
I’m glad that even in my frustration and anger, God gave me the grace to hold my tongue. I wanted to go into a tirade about why they are never, ever to take my keys. The accusation--“because you’re not responsible”--was wanting to leave my lips. But God’s mercy and grace helped me to picture what that would do to my child’s spirit. I remember what it felt like to receive stinging comments as a child. Luckily, I refrained.
The Lord brought to mind the parable of the woman who searches her house for her lost silver coin. It’s in Luke chapter 15, along with a parable of the shepherd who loses one sheep out of a 100 and searches for it, as well as the parable of the prodigal son.
My sons came up from their time-out, and I read them these parables. We discussed how, even though we had lost our keys, it is more important that our souls are not “lost”, that we find Jesus, and help others find Him, too, and that even someday, if we get “lost” from Him, that we—like the prodigal son—find our way back.
Right at that very moment, my son exclaimed, “Mom! The keys!”
They were sitting on top of the barbecue grill right next to me. I can’t tell you how many times I had looked on and around the grill. It was as though the Lord had blinded my eyes to the keys the whole morning, up until that moment.
Why? I don’t know. Perhaps there would have been an accident on the way to church. Perhaps there was a lesson I needed to learn. Perhaps it was a lesson one of my children needed to learn. Perhaps the story is something someone needs to be encouraged by. I don’t know.
I just know it was ok with God that we weren’t in church that Sunday morning, because He kept us home.
Women Living Well
Women Living Well