Over the next several days I would search whenever I could. I checked every pair of pants and every coat even though I hadn't worn a coat or pants. I checked every junk drawer, junk box, junk basket and found nothing but...junk. Then I would check the diaper bag and my Bible again. I tore the van apart thinking I must have laid them down while taking the kids out in the garage. I took out the car seats, I emptied the storage compartments underneath, and I got a flashlight to look in all the dark crevasses. I found a few old french fries and a couple of ponytail holders but no keys. I checked the garage thinking maybe they fell somewhere. I pulled out shelves in the laundry room to look behind them. I even got my flashlight and checked behind the washer and dryer. Then I would check the diaper bag again. I even asked friends to pray. I figure finding keys is nothing for God and I waited expectantly for them to show up. Weeks went by with no keys. I couldn't understand why he was holding out on me. Occasionally I would get an idea...
Several months before that we lost one of our remotes for the TV. (I know, heaven forbid we actually had to get up to change a channel.) We looked everywhere knowing it had to be in the house only to find it months later INSIDE the little tikes basketball goal. Yep, Daddy noticed it was standing a little taller than usual and in fact it appeared to be about the length of the remote control. He pulled out the top and WALLAH! there it was. Can you say Little Sister? This got me thinking she must have been playing with them. This meant they could be anywhere. I emptied every toy bin, looked in every drawer in the girl's room and unfolded the fold-out couch. No keys. Then I checked the diaper bag...again.
This went on for about two months. Now and then, I would get an idea and resume the search. Just to show you how extensive the search was, I flipped our living room couch on it's back and cut the lining on the bottom so I could stick my hand in there to see if they had fallen between couch cushions and then through a rip in the lining. I found some leggos, more ponytail holders, and a few raisins. I was starting to give up. I figured Little Sister must have put them in the trash can and they were in a landfill somewhere.
Now this will seem kind of random but there was something else going on in my head and heart during this time. I was having one of those seasons where the more I learned about God, the less I knew. I was studying the Word and digging deep and the more I dug, the more mystery I found. My dad told me once that there's not all that much in the Bible, it's all about Jesus. As I have read through the chronological Bible (makes a lot more sense chronologically by the way) I've seen this to be true. It's not a bunch of stories about people, it's one story about God. Sounds simple but suddenly I began to see the big picture. This brought some big questions. Unanswered questions it turns out. Questions that if answered, I probably wouldn't be able to fathom anyway. I began to feel small. Very small. I suddenly couldn't imagine how such a HUGE, GREAT, HOLY GOD could use me. I started to wonder if much in my life really mattered. I'm just one person who stays at home with two little girls and doesn't seem to have much impact on the world much less on the universe and all of eternity. I began to struggle as I often do with feeling I had a God who loved me...but from a distance.
I was lying in bed on a Tuesday night reading my chronological Bible and was in 2 Kings with some Isaiah and Amos scattered in. I didn't get anything earth shattering from it. It was mostly, so-and-so was king, and he was a bad king, and when he died, his son became king and he was bad too. I did read one thing that was interesting in Isaiah 7:10-11.
Not long after this, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: "Ask me for a sign, Ahaz, to prove that I will crush your enemies as I have promised. Ask for anything you like, and make it as difficult as you want."
I went to sleep feeling nothing but more distance and little purpose.
I woke up at about 3:00am, wide awake. I decided to do what I usually do when that happens and thought I would pray. Oddly, I was speechless. I didn't even feel like I could talk to God. I had nothing to say. I just lay there thinking how anything I said right then would just be words. So I just told God I had nothing to say. Thankfully, He did have something to say. He brought to mind what I had read that night. It was as if He said, "Ask me for a sign. Ask for anything you like, and make it as difficult as you want." "I can't do that God," I thought. But then he reminded me that King Ahaz had that same response and it didn't go well. So I just prayed, "Lord, I need a sign. I need to know I matter to you. I need to know I serve a purpose in your plan. I need to know you hear me. I need a sign and I need it to be clear and specific. It's got to be obvious Lord or I'm afraid I'll miss it."
The next day I went about my business and never thought about my request for a sign. I wasn't looking for it. I had a busy day and the last thing on my agenda was taking a meal to a couple in White House. I was driving a car that we borrowed from the dealership while waiting for our brakes to be fixed. After dropping off the meal, I was driving down the long driveway and reached for my cell phone. I'd left it in the cup holder and suddenly couldn't find it. I stopped the car, put it in park, and got out. I looked under the seat and in the center console. I checked my pockets. I went around to the passenger side of the car and looked under that seat. I figured I must have tossed it in the diaper bag so I reached inside...and immediately felt something in the side zipper pocket. It felt HUGE. "Did I actually go to the trouble to zip it up in the side pocket?" I thought. Wait...I started to sweat and get cold chills all at the same time. I felt around the edges of the item in the pocket and thought, "It can't be." I opened the zipper and lying there neatly, all alone, were my lost keys.
I heard the still small voice of God saying, "Is that specific enough? It's a small thing but it matters to me. It all matters. You matter." I was blown away. Did I mention I had checked this diaper bag no less that 20 times? Not only that but I took the diaper bag with me nearly every day. I unloaded and repacked it several times a week. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time but mostly I was just in awe. I walked around to the other side of the car, sat down, and shook my head. I thanked God all the way home and all night long. I still thank Him now when I think of it. And mostly, I think of it when I am feeling small, or pointless, or lonely, or confused. I don't know the mind of God. I don't know all the answers. In fact I don't know most of the answers. I don't know His plans. But I do know one thing...it all matters...I matter...you matter. And if you are lost, he can find you.