A few weeks ago, the spring broke inside the door handle on the driver’s side of my car. This meant that in order to get into the car, I had to go through the passenger’s side. On the day I was scheduled to take the car to get it repaired, I tried the passenger door and it was locked. Yes, I had forgotten to unlock all the doors the last time I drove, and yes, the key was inside the car.
This could have been a very easy situation to fix. When I bought my car many years ago, I was given a spare key, and was told to alternate using it with my regular key so the battery inside the key would stay charged. But since so much time had passed, I could not remember exactly where I had put the spare key, although I had some ideas.
The thought of searching for the key and where it might be was overwhelming (picture the show Hoarders), so I first called the garage where I take my car for repairs to explain the situation, and the owner said there was nothing he could do, and a locksmith would not be able to get into my car because it has a complicated locking system. I then called the dealership to see if I could get another key made, and the mechanic said unless my car had another lock on the passenger’s door (it does not), a new key would do me no good since the spring was broken inside the door handle with the lock. He said in order to program a new key, he would need to be able to get inside the car. He said if I had the car towed, he had a secret lockout kit that he could use (he didn’t use the word “secret”, but at this point, cynicism was my friend).
As I was calculating the cost of towing the car and paying for the secret lockout kit from the dealership, I was having a hard time justifying the thought of spending this kind of money when, at this point, it would be due to my lack of knowing the location of the spare key. In fact, I have had to pass on doing some extra concerts this year since these were not included in this year’s music budget, so the idea spending this kind of money was hard to take.
I called my good friend Steve, who knows more about cars than anyone I know, and he said he would do some research. He also said he thought a locksmith could do the job. In the meantime, I starting searching for the key.
There were five “regions” where the key could be. I say regions, because these Grey Gardens-like areas were not specific to one spot. For example, region one included every drawer in the house. I tackled this one first. Two hours later, and two hours behind schedule for my regular life, I knew the next searches would have to wait until the weekend. When the searches of regions two, three, and four failed (too much to describe), I gave up.
Not wanting to bother Steve again, I called a locksmith. He said he was not sure it could be done, but said he would be over in an hour. I immediately started calculating the cost of the locksmith, the likelihood that he would not be successful, the possibility of damage to my door and complicated locking system, followed by the towing, the dealership cost and their secret lockout kit, and I realized there may be no more concerts in my distant future.
At this point, I felt compelled to consider the possibility of tackling region five. Because I have no time, and 10 hours had already been devoted to regions one through four, I had previously decided that region five would be out of my league, since region five was comprised of every previous attempt at organization on my part over the years, as evidenced by stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks (you get the point) of plastic storage boxes. I knew it would take several days to go through all of this, but with the locksmith scheduled and my future as a performing musician at stake, I grabbed the first box in the stack.
I opened the box, and on the very top was a folder with all of the information from the purchase of my car, including the spare key. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with happiness. I canceled the the locksmith. Even though the battery in the key was dead, I knew the worst case scenario was now a simple battery replacement for the key.
Now standing at the broken door, I turned the key in the lock, and it locked the broken door. I turned it again, and it unlocked the broken door. I knew it was a long shot, but I kept trying, thinking the key might recharge or the other doors might unlock. After several attempts with the same outcome, I thought I would leave the key in the door to see if it might charge itself. A few minutes later, I tried it again. The key battery was still dead, so I turned the key and it locked broken door, and I turned it again, and it unlocked broken door, and this pattern continued until, suddenly, all the doors unlocked. I couldn’t believe it, and it felt like the second miracle of the day. (Steve even called later to tell me he had been working on solving the problem. We need more Steves in the world.)
As you already know by now, I look for the meaning in things that happen, and the lesson from this experience hit me several days later. I have often heard it said that God gives us the means to solve a lot of the problems we pray about and ask Him to fix. From the minute this happened with my car, I had a clear picture of what needed to be done to find the spare key, but did not even consider going the full distance at first. It made me start wondering about the things I have prayed about and would like to see happen, and the many thoughts I have had about ways they might happen that I really never fully pursue. An obvious passage about this is Matthew 7:7-9, where it says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I thinks sometimes we have a different view of what an answered prayer looks like, when a lot of times, the answer has been given to us, but we are not paying attention to it, disregard it as impossible, or are not willing to truly seek so we can find it. Although my key dilemma was small in the grand scheme of things, the experience forced me to think about the fact that many times, we have already been given the key if we are willing to use it.