Locks and keys were developed over 5,000 years ago. We all have things to protect, and padlocks, strongboxes and safes are often the best method. You’ve got to have the key to get inside.
In Israel they’ve got the most amazing keys.
For the most part, keys in the United States are a pretty boring affair, and that seems to be the case for most parts of the world to which I’ve travelled. They’re flat along the bottom, and have some sort of an up-and-down pattern across the top side to lift the pins of the lock. Yawn. Pretty boring. I had a friend who was a locksmith. He once explained to me how large campus facilities could set up master key systems so one master key could open every door. It was interesting at the time. Somewhat cool. But still, the keys were flat on the bottom and wavy on the top. Once again, yawn.
But in Israel they have amazing looking keys. Totally rectangular, no wavy ridges on one side. Instead along the sides of the key they have a series of indentations in various positions. These serve the same purpose as the ridges, obviously. But I remember the first time I was given one of these keys; and I was fascinated. The complexity of the locking mechanism confounded my brain.
In some ways our hearts are like a very complex lock. Our deepest feelings and most consuming and committed loves exist behind a layer of protection. Different types of love, to be sure. And not all equal; but protected and valuable none the less. Close friendships. Family members. A special type of love for our spouse that shares some special and exclusive things, both physical and emotional, that are shared with no one else. All of those loves live within us and touch some of the deepest elements of our being.
Some, but not all. Deep within us we all have a soul hole. It is very much like a lock keeping an area of our heart closed off, unopened and empty until the proper key is inserted. This area of emptiness within us gnaws at our very being. We know we’ve not been satisfied; but nothing we try brings lasting fulfilment and this area behind the door remains empty. Our “soul hole” stays vacant.
Today’s verse says BE THANKFUL, AND PRAISE THE LORD AS YOU ENTER HIS TEMPLE.
Like a person with a ring of keys who is not certain which one will open the door might keep trying key after key on the ring to see which one opens the lock, we keep trying things in our lives to see if any of them will open the door to our “soul hole.” New relationships, education, changes of employment, sexual liaisons, physical training, drugs and alcohol, music, children, hobbies — one after another we keep searching for that thing which will finally unlock the door. Some of these are good and wonderful things , others not so much. Some may bring joy and pleasure for a long time. Some of these will deliver a short-lived pleasure at the beginning but then reap pain and destruction unless and until you are able to break away.
God holds a key that no one else has. It is the master key that will open the door to your “soul hole” and allow He Himself to come in and fill that place that has remained empty. It is a place that only He can fill, because it can only be satisfied by a very specific type of love. The love of close friends, good and kind, is unable to fill this place, no matter how many of them you have or who they are. The love of family, wonderful as they may be, falls short of filling this hole in the soul. Even the intimate love of a spouse, though they may be totally dedicated and kind to the core, cannot fill this space.
Only the love of God Himself has the capacity to fully fill this space and therefore to fully satisfy that longing in our hearts. Because, like the most intricate and complex of keys, only His love is able to move the pins of the lock to precisely the proper position and open this space in our heart. HIs love is a key unlike any other. And it opens what no other key can open.
Here’s the strange thing. For every other lock in the world, the key is brought to the lock, not vice versa. No one travels around with LOCKS on a ring, searching for the proper key. Everyone has keys they bring to the place where the lock is. But in this case, we must bring our hearts to God; bringing the lock to the One who holds the key. We must put ourselves in the proper position for Him to be inserted into our lives, we must invite Him and give Him access to …. US.
God is not a burglar. He is not going to sneak into your life, break open your locked heart and steal from you. He will insert Himself only where He is invited and welcomed. Ah, but WHEN HE IS WELCOMED, and He unlocks the part of you that has been longing for Him all along, He then fills this space fully with treasures and gifts you could not begin to imagine. The bible says that eye has not seen, ear has not heard nor has it even entered into the heart of man the wondrous things God has planned for those who love Him. Treasures beyond your imagination. Riches of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — and so much more.
This relationship of inestimable value touches the deepest parts of who we are because He who created us knows how to touch them in ways no one else can. He meets needs no one else can meet, heals wounds no one else can heal, fulfills our lives in ways no one else can bring fulfillment. It draws us closer and closer to Him, and we overflow with thankfulness for all He has done, is doing and will do in and through us.
THAT is Christianity! Relationship, not rules. Power, not pressure. A love relationship like none other. And so we come into His presence overwhelmed with thanks and filled with praise for the One who has loved us so well and so deeply.
THAT is the fulfillment that only He can bring.
And THAT, my beloved friends, is why the psalmist writes today’s verse —
BE THANKFUL, AND PRAISE THE LORD AS YOU ENTER HIS TEMPLE.