Tomorrow is the big day.
I have visited there before, several times actually. I have walked around outside planning where I want to plant certain things in the new landscaping project.
I have been inside on three occasions, most recently for a final walk-through, and to hold paint chips up to the all-white walls as I picture how it will look when it is enhanced with wonderful colors.
But I did not have the ability, nor the legal right, to enter the premises alone. It was not yet mine, you see, and thus I could not enter.
However, tomorrow we will receive the keys to our new home. As glad as I am to begin this next phase of our journey, I do not confuse it with an even more important journey for which there is also a set of keys.
These keys are both easier to obtain than the ones I will get tomorrow (there are no ninety-six pages of documents to fill out) and more difficult to obtain, as they cannot be earned, only received through faith.
Jesus said to Peter, "...I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." (Matthew 16:19).
Some of us spend much of our lives walking around outside the kingdom, trying to figure out how to buy or earn our way in. Some of us want to "enhance" the property because we think the Lord left it a little plain (what's with all that narrow gate and straight way stuff anyhow?).
In that kingdom, there will be no need for new landscaping, as there is a river that runs through it and wonderful trees along its banks whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.
Still, some of us are not sure we want to enter the kingdom because we have seen who some of our fellow kingdom-dwellers are and we are not convinced we are compatible.
Some of us were hoping for a different role in the whole kingdom- scheme of things, and that has not worked out, and thus we are a little miffed at the pecking order. (Really now - the last shall be first and the first shall be last? Does that make sense?)
Nevertheless, it was not some smooth-talking realtor, nor even an erudite lawyer like the Apostle Paul who said it. It was Jesus himself, and he knows what he is talking about since he was there in the beginning and with the Father and the Spirit designed the whole kingdom concept.
He said, "...I will give you the keys of the kingdom" - you will, I hope, notice he did not say the keys "to" the kingdom, but rather the keys "of" the kingdom?
That is a very important little word. Generally, gaining the keys to something or someplace means having access, legal rights and some authority over what goes on there. It also includes having the ability or right to say who else can and cannot "enter" and be part of that place or space.
Again, however, the really important keys, are the keys "of" the kingdom. To gain an understanding of the kingdom, an appreciation of the kingdom, a heart of gratitude for inclusion in the kingdom, despite the fact that we could never earn or buy our way in; now those are the really important keys.
Yes, I am grateful to be getting the keys to our new home tomorrow. But it is really just another temporary dwelling. I never want to lose sight of the fact that it is those other keys, the keys of the kingdom, that are the truly important ones in life. They open life, love and fellowship, not just for a few days or a few years, but for eternity.
Hope you know just where your keys are this evening. I do, and I am very grateful. Until next time ... Marsha