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For the life of me I couldn’t unlock that lock.

Several times I used the combination I myself had set.  After all it was my lock.  I put it there.

The lock was on a storage unit containing inventory and fixtures for our business.  After numerous combination attempts, it became obvious that none of us were going to unlock that lock.  This meant one frustrating realization:

Everything on the inside was completely inaccessible, though inches away from our fingertips.

This included the bears.  Bearington Bears – the cuddly kind – being stored for a favorite ministry we support.   And they were needed that day for a ministry retreat coming up soon.  Ironically it was a ministry whose mission is freeing wounded hearts.  Yet we couldn’t unlock the unit containing one of it’s simplest ministry tools.

That’s when I had one of those “still small voice” moments.  Which is good because I felt more of a sinister Yosemite Sam moment coming if it hadn’t of.

For some, this may be a stretch interpretation of what happened next.  For me however it was an endearing stretch by the One most qualified to lace my my frustrations with a story beyond the story.

And it became too rich not to share. 

Because in it I found a correlation between the storage unit, our interior world, and the kind of work done by this ministry called Deeper Still. 

Here is what I learned.

Never Let A Lock Control Your Life

When what we treasure is behind a lock which we cannot control, it’s a form of impoundment at best, imprisonment at worst.  It prevents us from enjoying those treasures for ourselves or sharing them with others.  It can also cause a buildup of toxic heart trash as well.

Heart Treasure

Heart treasures are things like our ability to relate to our creator and other people.  It’s the ability to experience peace, enjoy creation, and find hope in a future that transcends the limits of time and space.  It’s the means through which we are moved by story, affected by music, and feel the emotion of a friend going through a hard time. 

It is the stores of faith, hope and love that enliven the human spirit and gives us the deepest levels of meaning and purpose.

Heart treasures are the rare earth minerals of humanity, and they reside in the innermost world of the heart.

Heart Trash

But then there is also the heart trash.  Usually the byproducts of treacherous life experiences – be they caused by others against us or produced by ourselves through our own bad choices.

Often a combination of both.

Each experience produces refuse such as fear, guilt, shame, bitterness, resentment, emotional pain, emotional instability, disordered personalities, humiliation and enough negativity to power a Tesla for a full year.

And we tend to want to lock that stuff away.  Whether it’s to keep it out of public view, or from our own conscious awareness.

There Can Be False Security in Locks

But in an effort to lock away the heart trash, we end up locking away heart treasures along with it.  Making both unavailable for emotional healing, intrinsic enjoyment, and sharing with others be it your family, work, community or family of faith.

Proverbs 4:23 from the Christian Bible is a family favorite – “Guard your hearts, for it is the wellspring of life.”  But guarding and locking are two very different things.  In the former we must stay present and attentive.  In the latter we can just click and forget. 

Locks become quick and easy ways to put away, get away, and stay away.  Locks give us a false sense of safety and control.

…But guarding and locking are two very different things.  In the former we must stay present and attentive.  In the latter we can just click and forget.

But the day inevitably comes when we want access to the heart treasures within, and we return to the locked unit only to find out we have lost the key or forgotten the combination.  And we are locked out of our own heart just as I was locked out of my own storage unit.

At that point there is only one thing to do that makes sense – ask for help.

Ask For Help

When for the life of you the lock won’t unlock, we can do one of three things:  

  • Keep trying different combinations or keys over and over again.  (One definition of insanity, as a friend use to say)
  • Forget about it and choose to ignore that locked heart, thereby devaluing what’s on the inside.  (Sadly this happens way to often.)
  • Cut the lock off.

I chose the third option, because the time had come when I wanted that lock off there.  But not having the tools to do so myself, I needed help from someone else.

When trying harder, jiggling it insistently, or endless variations of the combinations or keys don’t open the lock, it’s time for more drastic measures if you value anything on the inside.   

I had expected the on-site manager to pull out a set of bolt cutters and walk back to my unit with me and cut it off.   But they usually hire someone to do that.  Instead he told me where I might buy my own set of cutters, and that I would have no problem using them to cut the lock off myself. 

He encouraged me to make the investment myself so that I possessed the tool to cut a lock whenever the need would arise.

He must know my history with locks.  It’s not the first time I’ve locked myself out of my interior world.

It also reminded me that sometimes asking does not produce the quick-answer service we’d like.  Vital things like freedom can’t be delivered through an express drive through window.  

That’s when a third  powerful principle came to mind.  This whole experience was proving richer than any Divinity School course I’ve ever taken.

It Takes Grace and Truth Together to Cut Off a Lock

I lifted the bolt cutters to the lock, putting the stem between the two blades.  I brought them together to make the cut.  I would not have cut the lock using just one blade.  It took two working together in opposition to make the cut.  

Strange – two things working seemingly in opposition to make a redemptive breakthrough.  In reality, they are working together, not in opposition. They are just working in two different directions toward the same end.  That’s the genius of grace and truth.

Hence a perfect metaphor for how grace and truth work together to cut through the locks surrounding our hearts.  So it’s no wonder that in the Christian scripture the deepest and most meaningful introduction of Christ is as the One who came in grace and truth.  Not one to the exclusion to the other.  But both working in opposite directions coming together to free the things locked within.

Momentary Frustration | Long lasting Application

While it was a momentary frustration in an already crowded day, the object lesson that came along with it was worth the interruption

And so let me ask you.

What kind of lock might you have around your heart?  Have you tried to unlock it lately?   As you ponder those things in a quiet moment, let me encourage you with these three simple but powerful reminders from a God who is able to stretch out and lace your frustrations with hope.

  • Never let a lock control your life.
  • Ask for help to remove a lock, but don’t expect it to be done for you.
  • It takes grace and truth working together to cut a lock off.

The heart treasure within is worth the effort.  And once you’re in there, you’ll have an opportunity to toss any toxic heart trash smelling the place up.

The sheer freedom of access to your interior world will enliven your spirit in ways you’ve never imagined.

Make Life Count