Locking the Key Up: a Gospel Meditation

I did something foolish yesterday. I locked the key up in a building, and it was the only key that went to the building. I was not extremely distressed, since it would be a few days before anyone would have to access the building again. And I knew that I could find a way back in to get the key or that someone else could. The thing I most dreaded was the work of getting back in the building to retrieve the key.

Today I went to the building with the necessary tools in hand and went to work. I ended up spending a lot of time with a screwdriver and eventually gained access, retrieved the key, and put things back like they were before.

The reason I dreaded this work so much is because I have so many other projects that I am trying to work on (some urgent and some that can wait). I didn’t want to waste a half hour or an hour trying to fix something caused by my lack of thinking.

God certainly could have caused me to remember to take the key in the first place, but He didn’t. (I think He has on many occasions or I might have done things like this far more often than I have!) So I had to trust that there was something good that can come out of this.

After getting the key back, I reflected on the thing that distressed me initially: all the time and effort expended that could have been used for something else if I had not messed up to begin with. It would have been far less work if I had done it right in the first place, whereas it was much more work and time to remedy my mistake.

It reminds me of God creating man, man’s ruin by means of his sin, and the work of God in redemption. While creation is glorious and a result of what only God could imagine and do, redemption is glorious because only God could fix the mess that sinners like us got ourselves into. Our rebellion against God, the marring of the image He created us with in order to reflect His glory, the destructive consequences of our sin on our relationship with God, with others, and even the effects on creation — there is no way we could put all this right.

Thankfully, locking the key up was not so bad that it required someone else to fix it (although I did get a little help from a friend who appeared as I was finishing up). However, redemption required someone who could do that work, and only one qualified. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), was the only One fit for the work. The Son of God stepped into our time, in human flesh, lived a perfect life of obedience to and dependence upon God, died on the cross to bear the punishment for the sin of the world and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and rose again from the dead, all so that sinners like you and me could be forgiven by God (Luke 24:46-47) and be made a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).

Our problem had to be dealt with for things to be put right. I couldn’t simply leave the key locked up and imagine that the problem would take care of itself, and God couldn’t simply sweep our sin under the rug. And He didn’t. Mercy and justice met at the cross, and Jesus willingly gave the time and effort necessary to remedy the mess we were all in.

This message of the gospel is foolishness to those who reject it, but the wisdom of God to those who believe (1 Cor 1:22-25). I thought I was wasting my time and energy today, but I think God slowed me down to remind me of the Savior who freely gave of His time and effort to fix a situation that was not even His fault. He did not waste His time or energy, but rather accomplished eternal redemption for all who trust Him (Hebrews 9:12). And that’s something worth stopping to take the time and energy to think about for a long time — and give thanks.


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