This was supposed to be a quiet day for running errands. My wife and I ate breakfast and picked up a few items at several stores. While getting into the car I reached for my keys and to my surprise, pulled out two bulky key rings, each full of keys. The problem is… I only owned one of them.
There was an extra set of keys in my pocket and I had no idea who they belonged to or how I got them.
How had I picked up someone else’s keys? Did I see them somewhere and put them in my pocket thinking they were mine? Could I be a closet kleptomaniac taking what doesn’t belong to me?
I had no clue. However, someone nearby was missing a set of keys. They were trapped somewhere and I was the one to blame.
Quickly, we retraced our steps to the stores visited and asked if anyone had lost their keys: Four, five, six different places. No one recognized the keys or knew of anyone stranded.
Now what do we do?
There was a panic button on the car key. Maybe I could hit the panic button around the parking lot and at least find the car. So for several minutes we drove around several parking lots, hitting the panic button. Nothing! No car horns, no flashing lights. Nothing!
All I could imagine was someone frantically looking for their keys.
Unintentionally perhaps but just the same, I inconvenienced someone and no matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to rectify my mistake.
Have you ever hurt someone intentionally or unintentionally? Made a mistake that cost somebody else? Said something that hurt someone’s feelings?
Sure you have. Haven’t we all?
The real question is: “What do we do about it?”
In Matthew 5 as a part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed this very issue. He said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift and go be reconciled. Then come back and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
In a parable Jesus would tell the story of a servant forgiven a huge debt by the King. This same servant would later throw another in prison over not repaying a debt owed. Jesus described the fury of the King as the unforgiving servant was given over to the torturers. Jesus then pointedly said, “This same thing can happen to you if you do not learn to forgive and be forgiven.
The lesson is that we all make mistakes, no matter how hard we try not to. We hurt other people and they hurt us. The question is: What are you going to do about it?
I had someone else’s keys in my pocket and I could not go home until I found the owner and corrected my mistake.
My wife kept looking at the key ring and then started looking through the five or six store discount cards. One of the cards was for a store in the shopping center we were in. A store where we thought I might have picked up the keys. “Honey, why don’t you ask customer service to check out the owner of this discount card?”
Sure enough at customer service they were able scan the card and identify the owner. Within a few moments they were on the phone notifying the owner of her missing keys.
Whew! I could finally go home.
If only, all our mistakes could be so easily resolved.
Yet, In the midst of this silly story there is an important lesson.
We make mistakes. We hurt people. We are hurt by others.
Jesus says, no matter what the mistake or hurt. We must do our best to be reconciled.
Right now, I can think of several occasions where I have failed to be reconciled. In one or two instances, I was the one hurt. In one or two, I hurt someone else. I know that I must do better at being reconciled. This is important. To forgive and be forgiven is a critical part of our witness and our faith.
I have one final question: How did those keys end up in my pocket?“
That answer, I will never know.