I struggle with keys. No, I mean that literally, and I'm talking about keys for locks. I suppose it may go back to when I was a latch-key kid and the fear I had that the key I needed to get in the door at the end of a school day, with my little brother waiting patiently by my side, would not be in my pocket, or in its hiding place.
Actually I think it's related to the days I was a key holder for a major department store -- and not just any key holder, but the key holder. I was the head of security, and I was supposed to keep this building full of assets and people safe--and not cost the company money by accidentally setting off alarms (or annoy other managers because they'd get the call). An icy fist would twist my innards nearly every time I had to open the building, unsure the perfect combination of key turns and code punches and button pushes would actually open the door and silence the sirens.
It still happens today. I do what I have to do, but I really don't like opening or locking up a building that is alarmed. Too many parts of the process that might fail, including me.
Thankfully there is, as Charles Spurgeon put it, a lock-smith with a great bunch of keys who has all of that worked out for the most crucial, most stubborn, most unwieldy, most mysterious lock combinations of all: Eternity.
What Spurgeon wrote is below, but I wanted first to repost a short bit from an article I wrote that ran at the Three Rivers Grace Church blog page almost four years ago (10/15/13), called, "The Key in My Pocket".
The allegory of Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City has always been my favorite piece of literature. It is inspiring and encouraging and doused with Scripture; it convicts my heart and cuts it to the core no matter how many times I read it. I count Bunyan’s clever array of layers of doctrine and truths in the conversations and confrontations, observations and obstacles that his pilgrims encounter on their journey as creative genius (reflective of the Creator Genius).
The PP scene that came to mind this week as I heard the story of Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel (“more [evil] than all who were before him”, 1 Kings 16:30) was the one where pilgrims Christian and Hopeful were wasting away in the dungeon of Doubting Castle. Christian’s disobedience had landed them there when he neglected the warning to stay strictly on the Way of the King and not wander to the right or to the left. The Way passed through lands belonging to Giant Despair, who loved to capture pilgrims and make them useless in service to the True and Good King. Despair and Doubt were his weapons, and by beating the pair with these bludgeons, this wicked servant of the Prince of this World succeeded in clouding Christian’s mind with dark thunderboomers of hopelessness, resignation, and defeat.
But Hopeful (gotta love that Hopeful) would not give in, clinging to the Promises of the One who said His "eyes keep watch on the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). He reminded Christian that the Key to Escape from Doubt and Despair had been with him all along–-as long as he had the faithful promises of the Son of the King in his possession, he did not have to succumb to the humiliation and darkness.
For many years, I wrongly connected the key in Christian’s pocket to promises that the Lord would get me out of trouble. But that’s not what the beautiful consolation of this scene is about. There is no promise to be kept free of trouble in this life. The key here is the same one Elijah relied upon when he found himself watching the Brook Cherith dry up and feeling the armies of Ahab breathing down his neck: not escape from trouble, but confidence in a God who keeps His promises. What made Elijah one of the “good” guys spoken of in Proverbs 15 is not that he was one of those saved from trouble, but one of those the Lord saved through faith–-belief that God would do as He said. The Lord told Elijah, “Arise, go… I have commanded.” When Elijah arose and went, he saw what the Lord had arranged and, you might say, patted that little Key in his pocket.
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Spurgeon expounded on Bunyan's analogy of keys and promises:
"He has given us His very great and precious promises!" 2 Peter 1:4
God's promises are precious, because they tell of exceedingly great and precious things. We have promises in the Bible which time would fail us to repeat, which for breadth and length are immeasurable. They deal with every great thing which the soul can need:
promises of pardoned sin,
promises of sanctification,
promises of teaching,
promises of guidance,
promises of upholding,
promises of ennobling,
promises of progress,
promises of consolation,
promises of perfection.
In this blessed book you have . . .
promises for time--and promises for eternity;
promises for every condition every believer!
I sometimes liken God's promises to the lock-smith's great bunch of keys which he brings when you have lost the key of your chest, and cannot unlock it. He feels pretty sure that out of all the keys upon his ring, some one or another will fit, and he tries them with patient industry. At last--yes--that is it--he has loosened the bolt, and now you can get at your treasures!
In the same way, there is always a promise in the volume of inspiration, suitable to your present case.
The promises are precious in themselves . . .
from their suitability to us,
from their coming from God,
from their being immutable,
from their being sure of performance, and
from their containing wrapped up within themselves, all that every child of God can ever need!
"He has given us His very great and precious promises!"
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One of my favorite promises lately has been the words of the Lord given to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
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