On Wednesday morning, I woke up around 5 in the morning, threw on a sweatshirt, and headed to Men’s Fraternity at our church, a men’s minsitry that started at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock and has since spread globally. Around 7:30, I drove back home, unlocked the front door and then came in the house. My wife was still in bed and we didn’t have anywhere to be until a meeting at 9 am. With the chilly air numbing me outside, I knew I wanted to crawl back under the covers for a quick bit before grabbing breakfast and really getting ready for the day. I walked around the house for a couple of minutes doing a couple of odd-job things I thought needed to be done, and then went to lie down. Little did I know that that 20-minute nap would be my last moment of peace in the next 48 hours. Why? Because something happened in those 2-3 mintues before I crawled into bed that would totally consume my thoughts.
Big things don’t really bother me. No food in the fridge? We’ve got Ramen Noodles in the pantry! A little bit low in the old bank account? I’ve got four silver dollars I’ve been saving from the change machine at the car wash. The car drove off the cliff on its own? God will provide…and it will be better than what we could’ve dreamed. I’m pretty okay in those areas. In fact, I think I might even shine in them. But the little things? Oh dear! That’s a whole different story. In fact, that’s this story.
In those 2-3 minutes before I crawled into bed, I set my keys down…somewhere. “Somewhere” being the key word here. As we were leaving the house for our 9am, I couldn’t find them. I’m so bad at stuff like this that I even have a wooden bowl right next to our front door that I immediately throw my wallet and phone and keys into as soon as I walk in. Well…most of the time. Speaking of time, here’s a time-line of the next 2 days.
Noon on Wednesday: I search the house like some sort of CSI agent looking for some sort of missing clue. Nothing. I eat wonderful leftover pizza from the night before. In my eyes, it may as well have been cardboard. I am frustrated
After work on Wednesday: Intense search #2. This is the search that involved kitchen drawers and opening the oven, places you’d least expect to find your keys. Zilch.
Wednesday night: Deflated, depressing kind of search that have only been approved by this guy before I go to bed in anger…not something exactly recommended by people wiser than I.
Thursday morning: I wake up renewed. I have a few spots that I’ve been overlooking. Keys must be there. 20 mintues of pulling my hair out later, keys must not be there after all. I look out at our curb. The trash. Maybe I threw the keys away with something I was holding that morning. That could happen, right? After shaking the trash and listening for jingling joy, I hear “nothing”.
Thursday afternoon: Intense search #16. Amy asks sincerely, “have you prayed about it?” I answer sincerely, “no” and then go pray about it. Intense search #17. Nada. These keys were in this house at some point, but are no longer here. I think back upon that trash outside. What if my keys were in there somehow after all? What if I threw away my keys? I’ll never know.
Thursday evening: You know, my Pops had dropped by Wednesday morning. Maybe he grabbed them on accident as he left for work. Quick call with excitement and anticipation in my voice I can’t mask. 5 minutes of him looking for them later. Zero keys.
Friday morning: First real just-let-it-all-out-and-hope-that-wife-doesn’t-get-too-scared-SCREAM! Doesn’t help in intense search #52. Wife leaves for a few hours at the office. I’m stuck at home with my dog and a whole house that knows it’s going to get combed over like a man who’s holding on to the last ten hairs on his head a little too tightly.
But first I allow myself some real quiet time. I know this final search will determine whether or not I’m going thru with the task of replacing all of my keys, so I know I need to be grounded first. For the first time in 48 hours, I sit in peace. Of course it takes me several stop-and-starts to clear my head. But I’m working thru the Beatitudes in Matthew.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
This is not me. I just lost some keys. I keep reading through to Jesus’ teaching on worrying. What am I doing? These are just keys. I finish off by going back a few verses to the Lord’s Prayer. I finish by asking for forgiveness for allowing this little, little mess to consume me. There are people with much bigger prayers than mine. I set the Good Book down and begin my final search.
Late Friday morning: I begin in the bathroom. I look thru the cabinets and around the sink. I even raise the bar on looking in the oven. I lift up the lid on the back of the lid. I half expect a sign to sit there saying, “You’re an idiot!” Bathroom, you are all-clear.
Living room: no keys.
Dining room: nothing.
Kitchen: I stand on top of the counters. This will give me a new perspective. Don’t see a thing. I walk over to the trash can. We already emptied the trash bag that was in this can on Wednesday. That’s the one that was on the curb. That’s the one that’s probably holding my keys in some landfill somewhere on the outskirts of town. For about the fifth time, I consider if it’s really as silly as I think it is to call the trash company to ask if I can come and look thru a white trash bag at their landfill. But instead of doing that, I do something even sillier.
I pick up the trash bag that’s right there in front of me in our kitchen. I gift it a lift and a little shake. Something rings back at me. Or does it? That had to be my imagination. I pause, not wanting to let myself smile. I’ve been very cool-headed about this final search. I don’t want to crack now. I take a breath and shake again. I hear the sound of Christmas bells, or Reindeer ringing on my roof, or a pocketful of gold coins. I’m not sure the jingle of a search and rescue dog’s collar to a lost hiker in the Arctic Circle could be as pleasant as that sound. I sift thru the garbage to see the old carabiner that holds my keys. I reach through the gunk and pull out the lost treasure that sparkles shimmery silver. There they are. Somehow in this trashbag. This doesn’t make any sense.
I’m overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point of diving on to my couch and praying in that giddy none-of-this-makes-sense-kind-of-laughy-teary prayer that you pray no other human ever witnesses you do. God kept on bringing that trashbag into my brain. I just kept thinking, “I must have thrown away my keys.” It didn’t make any sense, but I really belived that I had. I just knew they were in the trash. I knew it. What I didn’t know is that they were somehow in the trash right there in my kitchen the whole time. How did they get there? God only knows…and I believe he’s smiling about it right now himself. I know I am.