T WAS A BEAUTIFUL, WARM, AUGUST DAY. My husband, Jerry, and I were taking care of our two grandsons, Tyler and Reid, and they were bored. Jerry suggested we take them to the ocean; it was a two-hour drive each way, but they would be able to have fun playing on the beach.
“Hey, boys,” Jerry called, “grab your swimsuits, ball, and shovels. Let’s go to the beach!”
Shouts of joy came from Tyler and Reid as they ran to get their things. “Take a towel, too, Reid,” said Tyler. “We’ll need to dry off after we get out of the water.”
As we got close to the Pacific, we were disappointed to see low-hanging clouds covering the sky. The blowing sand bit at our bare legs when we walked down to the water. It wasn’t long before Tyler, 8 years old, said, “I’m not getting my feet wet.”
“The water would be too cold,” 6-year-old Reid chimed in. “I don’t even want to make a sand castle. It’s too windy.”
We walked north on the beach for a short distance, but it was a miserable day; certainly not what we had expected. “Let’s go home,” Tyler suggested.
“Good idea,” I agreed. “We’ll stop somewhere for lunch and head on back.”
We turned away from the shore to go to the car, and were surprised to see the wind had totally erased our footprints. We couldn’t even tell where we had walked before.
Jerry carries a ring of keys on a clasp fastened to his belt. When we arrived at the car he reached for the keys only to find they had fallen from the clasp. The keys were down there—somewhere—in the sand on the beach.
We tried to retrace our steps, but with no footprints it was impossible to retrace the angle we had taken as we walked to the ocean’s edge. We walked slowly, scanning the sand on all sides. No keys were seen.
We went slowly back to the parking lot, and again back to the water. By this time Reid was frightened. “How are we ever going to get home, Granddad?” he asked, almost in tears.
Back in the parking lot again, people in a car parked by ours noticed our concern, Reid’s tears, and Tyler’s quiet attempt at bravery. “Got a problem?” they asked.
Fortunately they had a wire coat hanger that Jerry quickly bent to try to force through the window to get the door open. My purse was lying on the floor of the car with my car keys inside. If only we could get the door open, we could go home. We’d figure out how to replace the other missing keys once we got home.
Questions for Reflection
1. In general, who benefits most from stories about answered prayer? The tellers, or the hearers?
2. What stories of answered prayers can you tell?
3. Do we receive answers to prayer because of our faith? Or, are answered prayers the means of strengthening our faith? Explain.
4. Besides receiving answers, what other reasons are there to pray? List at least three.
While Jerry worked, Reid sobbed, and Tyler worried, I walked back to the edge of the water. This time I did what I should have done in the first place. “Lord, please help us,” I prayed. “You know where we walked, and where the keys fell. How wonderful it would be if You would help us find them. What a lesson it would be for two little boys to know that You care even about lost keys. Please help us, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Again, I started slowly back toward the car. I knew it was to my right, but I felt a distinct impression to walk to my left. Surely we didn’t angle this far north. But I had asked for guidance, and felt strongly I should walk the opposite direction from where we had parked.
I had taken only a few steps when in the distance I saw a metallic glint. Knowing immediately it was the keys, I thanked the Lord even before I pulled them from the sand. Did the last gust of wind uncover them just long enough to be found? Would the next gust have covered them forever?
I picked up this ring of keys and hurried back to the car. Jerry was still working frantically with his coat hanger, Reid was bravely holding back the tears while sobbing, “I want to go home,” and Tyler was sitting in deep despair.
Joyfully I shouted, “Why don’t you try using these?” as I held up the ring of keys.
We serve an awesome God; One who cares even about lost keys and little boys’ concerns.
Beverly Brass is a retired denominational worker who lives in Ryderwood, Washington. She and her husband, Jerry, spend their winters in Desert Hot Springs, California.