The idea of looking through a keyhole and seeing another world does something for me I can’t tell in words . .

I tried to fill that longing in many ways as a child, a teenager, and an adult . . all grievous to me now.  I had such an urge to be in a different world, to be somewhere I’d never explored, somewhere mysterious where I wasn’t yet known . . somewhere where I could be utterly free from the chains of this world.

I desperately wanted to be somewhere else, but I didn’t know how to get there.  I immersed in the waters of make-believe, and then I submerged myself, and then I dived in so deep I forgot I needed to breathe . .

Down at the bottom of the depths of all make-believe promises to offer, I found only poorly-constructed sand castles . . changing form each time an undercurrent hit them . . but all with doors, all with keyholes, all with the excitement of buried keys.

I would look through the keyholes, content not to breathe, wondering where the water worlds within the doors led.  But every time I found a key buried in the muck at the bottom of the sea, every time I was sure my search had ended . . I always opened the door into a dark, sandy dungeon that was nothing it had promised to be and everything I had always feared.

I kept searching through keyholes.  I kept searching.  But I never found what I was seeking.

One day, I was pulled to the surface of the water.  It wasn’t anything I had expected to happen; it wasn’t anything I would have even known to ask for.  Yet a great mystery pulled me up from the depths of my make-believe, a great mystery I knew only later to be the love of a Savior for a drowning sinner.  And so I gasped in the air of reality for the first time in many, many years.

I was so shocked by what reality looked like that I began to lose interest in diving back in make-believe to search for imaginary keyholes.  The more I saw of reality, the more I realized almost nothing was as I had thought it was when I had been drowning in make-believe.

I realized my life under the sea drowning had been meaningless.  I was confused, alone, and far, far from any beautiful world I had so hoped to somehow get to.

I didn’t know what to do, but I now had lungs that took in reality.  The air I breathed at the surface was not immediately comforting to me . . this was a world I did not know.  Above the surface of all I had ever wanted in the depths of the sea, I saw nothing I had been looking for . . and yet exactly what I had always needed.

For here was the one keyhole I had always needed to look through.

But that seemed almost impossible in this world.  Around the false sea of my imagination was a thin, hostile shoreline where nothing grew.  There could be no sunlight because of a wall, the tallest wall I had ever seen, a wall that surrounded the thin shoreline of my lonely, lonely world.  The wall reached so high, it was as though it never ended in the sky.

Far more so now than even then, I see what a strong, thick, unmoving, and infinitely tall wall it really was.  It was the wall of my sin.  The wall of hopelessness.  I had no chisel to chip away at the wall to see what it was blocking, nor any hope that even if I had a chisel I could have made so much as the tiniest scratch in its surface, even if I’d had all eternity to do so.

But it was not all hopeless above the bottom of the sea.  There was something about this new air that was very appealing to me . . as if I had been meant to breathe it all along, as if this was the real world, and that down below was nothing I had ever really been wanting . . I had only thought I’d wanted it from lack of air.  I’d been dazed . . darkened . . comatose . . and now I was breathing, treading water, and beginning to be frightened that I might be drawn back into the depths of alternative reality.

At first, there was wonder.  But then, there was fear.  And panic.  And dread.  I still did not look forward to life.  I had always thought reality was disastrous; what I saw from the surface seemed to prove it.  There was the wall . . the wall I could never move, could never change, and did not know how to get through.  It was a self-made wall, and yet I didn’t know how to tear it down.

It had been built stone by stone by the poor choices of my broken character, and yet I could not fix anything about who I was . . I wanted to go back to the shadows of the bottom of the sea and work again on who I pretended to be . . that was comforting . . and yet, it was not . .

And all the while, in the impossibly tall, impossibly thick, and impossibly hopeless wall, I could see a taste of sunlight streaming through a keyhole.

The keyhole was the Word of God.

I wanted to look through that keyhole.  I wanted to know what was on the other side of my wall.  I wanted to see more of the sunlight that streamed through the keyhole.

I began to look seriously at the character and claims of and about Christ Jesus in His Word.

I found a mystery I did not expect.

I had always seen Christ as very easy to understand: God who chose to die.

Now I saw the greatest mystery of all time: He is God who chose to die.

What had seemed so surface-level when I had been at the bottom of a false sea now became the greatest mystery of all time.  But the great and impenetrable wall of my sin was utterly surrounding it, entirely blocking my view all this time, except for the sunlight that streamed through the keyhole.

All the time I had been hopelessly under the sea, searching for keyholes in the bottom of a black sea, I had been missing the one keyhole at the surface where true Life was behind the door.

Even now that I was at the surface of my dreadful sea, treading the water seemed to do no good except show me there was a terrible wall blocking everything good from my life . .

. . save for the keyhole.

Curiosity, panic, heartache . . and the hope of what I might see . . nudged me to stare at that keyhole, on that wall, that wall far away from the waters in which I dwelt.  I felt too fatigued to swim closer to the bank for a better look, but I could see the keyhole even from my distant vantage point . . and though the sunlight seemed so far away . . I began to read the Word.

As I began reading, little by little, a most marvelous thing happened . .  I was pulled toward the shore, drawn closer to the keyhole.  Before I realized what was happening, I was standing on the shore, face to face with the vast, stone-cold wall of my sin.  I would surely have jumped back in the waters to drown if I hadn’t been able to see something else, too . .

the sunlight of God’s love streaming through the keyhole.

I peered through the keyhole at the wonderful light. . at first it was very fuzzy, since my eyes weren’t accustomed to the sun . . I wasn’t sure what to make of it, or if it meant anything at all for my life . . but I was drawn to look more.

As I looked more intently . . as I began to believe what God’s Word said about my sin and about Christ . . I became captivated to the still-blurry world I could see on the other side.  I began to long to see the world on the other side of the keyhole, and that longing over time became greater than I had ever longed to see anything beneath the sea.

The more I read the Word, the more I wanted to seek God.  As I began to seek God, I began to see through the keyhole more clearly.  The more clearly I saw through the keyhole, the more I wanted to read the Word.

The world I saw through the keyhole was nothing I had ever expected to see.  I saw love–real love, slave-freeing love, everlasting love.  I saw God on a cross, held up so all the world could see the reality of His love, His slave-freeing love, His everlasting love.

I could not believe it.

Something very strange began to happen to me.  Rather than believe, as I should be expected to believe, that I could never, ever enter that world . . I began to believe more and more that I could.  As I looked through the keyhole of God’s Word, I saw a world I knew I could access by only one key.

The key of Christ.

I began to realize that this very key had been placed in my hand . . placed there by the nail-scarred hand of Christ.

He had given me Himself.

No longer did I have to drown.  No longer did I have to look at that fearful wall.

I could enter through the door, if I placed the key in the lock.  Though the lock was the lock of Justice, it could be opened by the sacrifice of Christ.

As soon as the key of Christ was fitted into the lock, the gates of mercy gave an awful creak, the bottom of the sea shrieked as though to swallow me whole . . and the gates swung open wide.

I entered in and saw what no sinner ever deserves to see . .

The shores of God’s grace.

It is a world so beautiful that not in the most extraordinary dreams of hope could I have imagined for one moment anything to compare to this world of ultimate wonder.

It is the world of knowing Christ.

And it is waiting.  Not for just me.  But for anyone who seeks to open the gates of mercy with the key of Christ.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jesus, quoted in John 8:31b-32, NIV)

And this is [God’s] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23, NIV)

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jesus, quoted in John 14:6b, NIV)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NIV)

 “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Jesus, quoted in Revelation 1:18, NIV)