Fast and Testimony Meeting

I’d like to bear my testimony that I know God answers prayers, because I was late for [insert here] and I couldn’t find my keys. But I prayed, and then I found them.

At least one person per testimony meeting, always.

I never found my keys, and I would like to bear my testimony, too.

During my junior year at an Ivy League university, I was thriving. I had a strong network of friends, was doing well in my full schedule of classes, and paid for most of my education through a 20hr/wk job caring for autistic children about 5 miles away from campus. I biked everywhere. 

I felt acutely the sensation of making it “out,” because I started high school living in a tent. Right at the beginning of the first class on my first day, a spider — my lifelong nemesis — spun itself down from my hair, right in front of my face, and onto my desk. Worst of all, I wasn’t even terrified. For the first few months of high school, my teachers deducted points on my essays because they were handwritten, not typed. Like I could plug in a computer at our campground. 

So. One beautiful autumn day, my junior year of college, I was biking back to campus from work, my keys attached to my handlebars, when I hit a rock and crashed. I was fine; I got up and kept riding. Within a block I noticed my keys had fallen off my bike. I went back to the scene of the accident and searched exhaustively through the leaves, but they were nowhere to be found. I said the requisite prayer, but no keys materialized. I went home, hoping they’d gotten mixed in with my other things, but they had not. I biked back and forth, work to home, retracing my steps, but no keys. More days, more prayers, more faith, more retracing my steps. 

No keys. 

I called the housing office and found out how much it would cost to replace the keys to my housing: $200. I panicked. Life as I knew it seemed over. I already spent many afternoons in the bookstore, carefully reading my textbooks off the shelf because I couldn’t afford to buy them. If I replaced my keys, would I be able to afford tuition? Would I have to drop out of school? Would my having made it “out” come to nothing? Was God trying to humble me? Had He let me believe I was on a path to security and stability, just so I’d have that much further to fall? Was my whole Ivy League experience an elaborate, divine set-up, designed to teach me that earthly security and fulfillment were mere sources of pride and distraction from God?

I never found my keys. I paid the $200 to replace them (and stored them in my backpack while biking). I kept reading my textbooks in the bookstore or borrowing them from my roommate. I didn’t drop out.

When I was on my mission, I heard a young adult share one of the most memorable variations on the “Keys Testimony” I’ve ever heard. They had almost run out of a hair product, and their usual store had discontinued their favorite brand. This was a crisis due to a date that very night, and they went to some lengths to explain why no other hair product brand could substitute for their favorite. In the depths of their despair and anxiety, they prayed for another store to have their favorite brand in stock, and it did. 

A few years later, I went to babysit for my friend Lenore (name changed). She was trying to coparent with an abusive ex-husband who was blackmailing her, manipulating her and her lawyer, and suing her for custody of their two children. Things were coming to a head, the court date was approaching, and her son, Caden, needed to go to a dentist appointment — one her ex-husband would also attend. 

She couldn’t find her keys.

She asked her 3-year-old daughter, Melody, if she had taken them, since she didn’t want to be left with a babysitter. She bribed Melody that she could come to the appointment. She checked all of Melody’s usual hiding spots, and Caden and I looked everywhere we could think of, too. We knelt and said a prayer. I felt the love of God for Lenore, Caden and Melody so strongly, and her faith was palpable. 

But no keys materialized. 

Finally, 15 minutes late to the appointment and still no keys, she called and rescheduled. Then she called and told her ex-husband. Pain and fear filled the room like a knife poised to sever her from her children. 

Two minutes later, Melody toddled out, keys in hand, from a new hiding place she’d found. “Mama stay here!” she announced, emanating love and joy. Lenore called the dentist back immediately, but Caden’s slot was gone. Lenore wept.

Does God love us less in our times of need? Does God will additional hardship toward those already suffering? Does God allow Satan to work through a toddler’s innocent, earnest-hearted caprices? Does God deem a plea for a hair product more worthy than a plea for a safe home or a secure future?

When the Savior of humankind became incarnate to “save that which was lost,” he wasn’t talking about keys or hair products.

He took upon himself “the pains of his people…that he may know according to the flesh how to succor [them].” The God who loved children, who cried out to His own Father from the cross “why hast thou forsaken me?” intimately understood the innocent little toddler who was afraid to be separated from her mama. The Lamb of God, who paid for our sins, shared with Lenore the injustice and life-altering burden of someone they loved trading their safety for a handful of silver. Prayer isn’t really an umbrella against the rain that falls on the evil and the good; prayer shows us God in the downpour. Prayer may or may not lead us to our keys; prayer leads us to comprehend God’s image in our countenances. Prayer doesn’t focus on our wish fulfillment; prayer forges intimacy with the Divine.

After all, the doors we walked through with God never needed the keys we’d prayed for.

Comments

  1. Absolutely love this!

  2. I’m going to sit with this one for a while. I don’t believe in a “vending-machine” God, not when so much suffering exists. But I do believe in a God who sits with us through our suffering, and who calls all of us to alleviate the suffering of others as much as we possibly can. But putting that into practice is … hard. Precisely because the suffering is so heavy, and the juxtaposition of some people receiving luck/blessings/mercies while others keep suffering is so apparent.

  3. Beautiful. Thank you for stating so plainly that the doors we walk through with God don’t need keys (which I believe are ALL doors, whether or not we recognize God is with us.) Your post makes me think of something I’ve actively pondered lately – I’ll paraphrase from a lesson in “A Course in Miracles:” “God is in everything I see because God is in me.”

  4. A few years back one my son’s who was at age 10 at the time could not find his shoes as he was getting ready for school.
    I was frantically searching everywhere for them. I found a pair of shoes but of course they were not the right pair of shoes so the hunt continued. He had just recently had a primary lesson about praying for lost things and suggested we pray for them. So we said a little prayer to help us find the shoes. I went outside to look for them but they weren’t there either. After some time had passed I go back to check on him and he tells me he’s willing to wear the old pair. In that moment I was so happy that we both hadn’t found the ones we were looking for and that he had humbled himself to wear the pair we did find. It’s a story I’ve told him now a few times over the last 6 years.

  5. I like the post, I think it gets at what matters. I’ve considered the ‘key phenomenon’ too, since I have also heard so many variations of it. I have come to conclude it is a real thing. I think the reason why, is that in many circumstances it’s a really easy prayer to answer. One of the things the Holy Ghost does is “bring all things to [our] remembrance”. So if it’s a matter of forgetting, but the memory is in there somewhere, and little inspiration can pull that out relatively easy compared to let’s say finding the answer to and curing one’s personal depression. However, not all things lost are simply a memory issue or perhaps even as easy to access the memory, which helps explain why in some cases the keys never “materialize” while it seems so easy in others.

    To me it shows that God is ready and willing to give us inspiration over anything even as trivial and easy forgetting where we placed the keys, but receiving answers is not like a “vending-machine” as Carolyn put it, God has to work with what is in our minds and hearts, and for most problems that means a lot of back and forth with God trying to work out the communication and inspiration more akin to a wrestle with God.

  6. “Prayer isn’t really an umbrella against the rain that falls on the evil and the good; instead, it shows us God in the downpour.” This is wonderful. May I share this please? I have come to feel that the prayer ‘formula’ we were taught in the church – (“We thank thee for etc, We ask thee for etc, close in the name of Jesus Christ”) – whilst helpful for children or people who have never prayed before, does not do us any favors in trying to genuinely connect with the Divine.

  7. PC – BCC posts are public and exist to be shared!

  8. Thank you Carolyn. I just wanted to be sure.

  9. Ann Porter says:

    This whole subject makes me really angry and less of a believer than I was before I read it. I can go for months without thinking about this kind of thing, but when reminded of it, the conclusion I draw is that if there is an omniscient, omnipotent, interventionist God, he is really, really lousy at his job.

Trackbacks

  1. […] From my worm’s eye view I consider that prayers matter, however maybe not within the methods we count on them do. On this regard, I’m reminded of the knowledge contained in a current put up by Laura, Quick and Testimony Assembly: […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: