My 16 month old grandson, Nicholas, has a love affair with keys. Before I came to England I asked Hans, “Would Nicholas like anything from the States?” He answered, “Keys.”
Every child watches his parents use keys to make the car move, open the front door and unlock special places. Nicholas, a quiet, thoughtful child, had been watching and becoming frustrated that no one would turn over their key ring to him.
More than 30 years ago I remember being at an Ace Hardware store near home where I noticed a basket full of keys on the counter. “Help yourself,” the key-maker said. “They’re all duds.” That day I made a key ring for our two year old, Nelson, and it was his favorite toy for weeks.
Last month, after visiting two hardware stores in Michigan and being told I’d have to buy blank keys, I passed an Ace, and sure enough. They were still saving dud keys. “Help yourself,” the key-man said.
I chose car keys, padlock keys, house keys and a motorcycle key. Back home I added a few small luggage keys, then a small silver wrench and put them all on a microphone key-ring in honor of Elvis, one of Nicholas’ daddy’s favorites. When the hefty key ring was finally put into this one year old’s pudgy hands, you’d think I’d given him the keys to a candy store. He lit up with glee and toddled off in search of something to open.
I love watching Nicholas work with his keys. His young mind is purring on discovery speed as he tries and tries again to succeed. When he finds a hole to shove one key into and when the heavy key ring stays in place after he lets go of it, he looks at us with his eyebrows raised as if to say, “Did you see that?!” Then he wrestles it out and repeats the process.
Nicholas isn’t even two yet but recognizes the importance of keys, and as adults, we know hanging onto ours is critical. We go to great lengths not to be without them, hiding an extra car key in a magnetic holder under the bumper and putting an extra house key under a rock.
Jesus also acknowledged the value of keys. He used the word picture of a key to talk with his disciples not too long before he was killed, as a way to explain the important plans he had for them. He would be giving them the “keys to his kingdom,” he said, by the power his Spirit would give to build his heavenly kingdom through believers on earth. I’m sure he used the image of a key knowing these men would appreciate its importance.
Today Jesus offers all of us an important key, the key to understanding. I’ve often asked the Lord to “open my spiritual eyes” so I can “see” what he’s trying to teach me. As I pray for the readers of this blog, I regularly ask God to open each one’s spiritual eyes to understand exactly what he has in mind to show them. And the beauty of his having the key to understanding is that he also has the ability to answer that prayer.
Nicholas has his own hook on which to hang his keys. The problem comes when we’re ready to hang them up, and they can’t be found. Thankfully, Jesus keeps careful track of his keys, and he doesn’t even need a spare.
”The Lord… will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (Isaiah 33:5-6)