I am so excited to announce the release of my newest book, Keys To The Kingdom.
To peak your interest to get your own copy, I am going to share the introduction of the book with you below. Get your copy today at Amazon.com.
Keys To The Kingdom
Looking back I see now that I have always had a storied history with keys – physical, lock-opening, ordinary keys. Having been a Christian for many years, it should not have surprised me then that the Lord chose to use such a simple, tangible object as a touchstone for my spiritual growth and learning down the road. The book you hold in your hands contains many of those teachings. But first, before the spiritual significance of keys could ever become part of my experience, I had to learn a few things about keys in a general, human way.
As I consider my history with keys, a few stories come to mind.
The first time I really paid attention to keys was as a sixteen-year-old. Most of my friends at the time were younger than I, and we all thought it was cool that I could drive them home after basketball games. As teenagers, transportation freedom is one of those rites of passage leading to all other types of independence, and we were no exception. Also not unusual was the fact that we didn’t always act responsibly with our new freedom.
One night – and I still shudder to recall how we were allowed to do this, especially in the winter – our coach let us leave our game still in our sweaty uniforms. Shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and knee-high tube socks were hardly appropriate for the temperature outside the gym. My two friends and I drove through our small town that night. We came to a stop light, and one of them hollered, “Chinese fire drill!” The three of us reacted with great excitement by jumping out of the car, running around it, and clamoring back in before the light turned green. I don’t know if teens today still take part in this silliness, but it was great fun for us at the time.
My car, however, made “Chinese fire drills” difficult because it had a five-speed, manual transmission. This meant I needed to ensure the car was in neutral and the emergency brake was engaged before jumping out to run around the car. On that particular night my friends, as they ran past the driver’s side of the vehicle, hit the door lock and shut the driver’s side door. They thought it was entertaining to watch me standing outside the car, freezing, at a stop light.
Not one to let the fun pass by, I decided to return the favor. During the next fire drill, I ran past the passenger side doors, and I locked and shut them. It would have been funny, except that I didn’t realize my friends were doing the exact same thing on my side of the car, probably at the exact same moment! The humor of our funny prank quickly dissipated when we realized we were all standing outside the car at a stop light, in our sleeveless shirts and short shorts, in the middle of winter, at night, locked out of the car, with no spare set of keys. The feeling of frustration and discomfort is something I still recall to this day.
Years later, I had another run-in with keys, but this time it wasn’t such a funny story. It was, in fact, a bit scary.
My husband and I lived in the country, and our first child was about a year old at the time. I worked the late shift at a hospital about thirty minutes from home. One night the hospital was on “lockdown” because of a local situation where a manhunt for an escaped, dangerous convict was underway. Someone reported seeing a man sneaking in through the Emergency Room, so the hospital was locked while this report was investigated. After a thorough search, the convict was not located within the hospital. It was a good news/bad news situation, though – certainly I was relieved there wasn’t a runaway convict hiding in the hospital where I worked, but I was also about to leave my shift and head for home along a dark, rural road at 11:30 at night. The convict was still at large, and I was about to be out in the darkness, alone. As I left, I kept looking at the row of trees lining the road, scanning them carefully and anticipating that the convict would jump out at any time. By the time I arrived at home, un-attacked, I was a jittery mess and eager for the safety of our home.
Living in a rural area, we often left our doors unlocked. None of my neighbors or anyone I knew in the area could recall the last time there had been a home burglary, and it was nice to live in a trusting community where locked doors weren’t a frightening necessity. That meant, however, that I didn’t often keep a house key on my set of keys. Why would I ever need it?
That night, however, likely because of the manhunt, I found the doors to my home locked. I knocked and knocked, pounded on the door with all my might, and tried to awaken my husband. He was sleeping at the other end of the house and with the attic fan running, there was little chance he would hear me. In my spooked state, I was certain the convict would jump out of the bushes any moment and attack me.
At the time, we had a rescued Doberman named Max living with us in our backyard. Max and I hadn’t quite figured each other out yet by that time and, while I was fairly certain he was harmless, I’d had a run-in with him recently and knew he could be quite protective of our son and our yard. Still, since the front door was locked, making it through the yard to my bedroom window seemed my only hope. If I could arrive at the window unscathed, perhaps I would be able to bang on the window loud enough to wake my husband.
I approached the yard cautiously, and Max immediately began to growl. This didn’t bode well at all. In that moment, I had to choose between my fear of the dog and my fear of the man who might jump out to get me at any moment. After deciding to take my chances with the dog, I made my way to the window; it was just high enough to be barely out of my reach. About that time, I heard Max snorting and pawing at the ground. I turned in time to see a snarling Doberman in full stride, headed straight for me.
To my amazement, and I never will quite understand how it happened this way, he didn’t attack me. Rather, he jumped up and hit the window with his head. Then, he backed up and did it again!
I breathed a sigh of deep relief when, moments later, the porch light came one, the back door was opened to me, and my startled, sleepy husband stood in the doorway in a stupor, trying to figure out what was happening.
Without a key, without access to open a door, I needed to open, the anxiety and fear and hopelessness of being locked out was immeasurable. I’ve never forgotten what it felt like. But the sensation of having the door opened to me was equally memorable – there was joy, gratefulness, and a deep sense of relief.
I tell you these two stories to make a specific point: Keys are important because we do not like to be locked out. And, just as we need keys in our natural life, spiritual keys are also a necessity. Jesus provided us with some important spiritual keys.
During Jesus’ earthly time of ministry, He met with his disciples and asked them who people thought He was. The passage below tells this story.
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16.13-19)
Here, Jesus told His disciples at the time and all future believers that He had purchased some keys for us, keys which will enable us to walk in greater fullness and victory on this side of heaven. While I had read and quoted this particular passage from the Bible for years, the keys mentioned here took on new meaning about six months ago.
During a normal Sunday morning sermon, our pastor flashed the above verse about keys on the screen briefly. He did so to demonstrate one of the points of his sermon, though I don’t recall entirely now what the sermon was about. At the end of the service, I was led to pray for a particular friend who was fighting a physical illness. While I was praying, in my mind, a vision of an old-timey lock came to me. Some would call it a skeleton lock, and perhaps you have seen the antique skeleton keys which were used in such locks long ago. As I prayed, I heard the Lord say, “I have given her the keys!”
Remarkably, after that service, I saw keys everywhere I looked. I couldn’t escape them! For example, a billboard sign I pass by regularly and never take notice of had a key on it, and it stuck out to me like a sore thumb. I began to notice how many of the inspirational quotes I read mentioned keys in their messages. I even noticed there is a key emoji on my phone!
Around that time, my daughter asked me, “Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day?”
While I don’t normally want or need anything, I knew as soon as she asked that this year was different. I had found a set of forty-two unique skeleton keys, and I really wanted a box with a skeleton key lock on the outside. I already knew exactly how I wanted to use the box and the keys, and I was excited to put my revelation into practice in a visual way.
In the chapters to come, we will talk about what I did with those keys and how transformational our vision of keys can be in our spiritual lives. The spiritual keys I discuss are closely related, and they become more powerful when connected together.
I pray that you too will realize every key on our key ring has a purpose. Relying on these keys is an important tool in making sure we aren’t locked out of all that is intended for us.
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