The Day I Lost the Key

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There is an exhaustion so absolute that you find yourself counting minutes before you can crawl between the sheets. In my experience, that overload usually involved an overseas flight and jetlag. No matter how we adjusted our flight schedule, crossing the international date-line always depleted our reserves. I suppose any continual twenty-six-hour trip will do that.

Our plane trip had been uneventful. Once, we’d tried to shave time off this portion of the layover and missed the Dallas to Tokyo flight. We vowed never to do that again. 

After the initial fifty-one-minute flight, I had plenty of time to navigate from the domestic terminals to the international D and E gates. Preparing for the long journey, I ate my last enchiladas and browsed Lone Star t-shirts, determined to fix every Texas memory firmly in my mind while bracing for the years back in Asia

Although the fifteen-hour leg to Narita, Japan, seemed long, the 3-hour one to Taipei, Taiwan, proved the most difficult. No matter how many status miles we accrued, there were rarely upgrades on Japan Airline trips to our adopted home. By this point in the trip, I’d tried every seated position and was craving a full horizontal. To top it off, once landed and luggaged, we had to clear Taiwanese customs, which often proved slow and burdensome. 

The drive to our apartment in Taichung necessitated at least two and a half more hours, and although the chauffeur was not my husband, I felt the responsibility to help keep him awake. With great effort and tedious Mandarin, I chattered throughout the trip. We arrived on the steps of our high-rise complex at about two o’clock in the morning. Most of the three million people in our city were asleep, and I was genuinely grateful that I would be joining them in a few moments. I’m sure our charter driver felt the same. 

With a last burst of energy reserve, we manhandled our various bags onto the elevator and pressed the button for the seventh floor. When nothing happened, Mark remembered the small security fob needed to access the elevator. Despite the confines of our small enclosure, we fumbled for the key and closed our eyes in relief as the conveyor shaft jerked upward. 

When the elevator doors slid apart, I smiled weakly, knowing that sleep was just beyond that red apartment door. But as I took my first fatigued step off the lift, I limply dropped the key fob. I watched in slow horror as the single key and fob slipped precisely through a two-inch crack in the elevator floor. I stared dumbfounded, knowing no locksmith would be open at this hour. The latchkey to my bed was now inaccessible on the bottom of the shaft, and I had no extra cache of energy available for a crisis. 

As I talk to people lately, I find they are also experiencing life overload. Exhaustion, fear, and hopelessness have depleted their determination, and the future looms without a promise of rest. They shift from one orientation to another, grasping for anything to give a little comfort. 

Even Christ-followers are overwhelmed and drained. Although we had the key in our possession once, we now feel lost in knowing how to retrieve the joy. Our ch’i is gone, and we aren’t coping much better than our non-believing neighbors. Whether we blame it on someone else or the devil, we feel worn out and without a strength reserve. The answer seems far away in inaccessible darkness. What we need is help.

In our jet lag situation, we did get to bed that night. Mark walked down the seven flights of stairs to enlist help from our gate guard. Usually, the night shift proves ill-equipped for problem-solving, but that evening, the watchman himself accessed the shaft and found our key for us. I had it in my tear-stained hands within the hour. 

Has the key to listening to God slipped your grasp? You still own the key, yet you cannot access it alone. Finding a watchman to reconnect you to recognizing Jesus’ Voice may be the remedy. Your helper might be an individual or even a small group. 

If you’ve dropped your key, ask God to bring you the appropriate watchman. Just pray: “Lord, I want to hear You again. Please send someone to encourage me as I listen for You.” Be consistent with your simple prayer until He sends your “night guard.” Remember, God wants to communicate with you.