Monday, August 1, 2011

Two Keys

I have a friend whom I accompanied on a ride sponsored by our church on a cool October Saturday back in 2008.  He rides a nearly new looking Honda Pacific Coast motorcycle.   That model was mostly produced in 1989 and 1990, with some production through 1998, and it has almost scooter-like cowlings covering the mechanical workings, with lots of storage space available.

The trunk on the bike is extensive, and opens from the top, as in this picture.

I don't think my old '59 Chevy Biscayne had as large a maw for a trunk as this motorcycle. 
[That's not me in there.]
There is also a small key-locked glove-box-like compartment on top of the Pacific Coast's tank that swings upward to open. 

While we were out riding, we stopped at Whitewater Falls, one of the places I have visited many times over the course of my few years of riding, and he showed me all the storage capability of his bike.  Unfortunately, he had left the ignition key in the lock cylinder of the small compartment as he opened the trunk.  The seat, mounted on the trunk lid, hit the key and bent it.  He straightened out the key as best he could with a pair of pliers, but it would not enter the ignition lock to restart the bike.  I lent my expertise to the situation by using another pair of pliers I had in my toolkit along with his.  After some manipulation and the fear of breaking the key in two, I retreated to the I-am-hopeful-but-I'll-bet-I-know-the-answer-already, "Do you happen to have a spare key with you?" inquiry.

His answer, as I secretly feared it would be, was no, he did not.  I envisioned a 40+ mile ride to get it, and a 40+ mile trip back to the bike, or of having to wait for someone to find his spare key and bring it 40+ miles to get us started again.

Scenes of the day being spoiled danced in my head.  He and I had done everything we humanly could do to make the key work, but it resisted our best ministrations.

Wait.  "...I-am-hopeful-but-I'll-bet-I-know-the-answer-already...."  "Humanly possible ministrations."

Maybe those were part of the problem. 

Being an engineer by training (and owning a fine vinyl pocket protector to prove it),
I have a marked tendency to try to solve problems logically, and on my own.  After all, I would hope that four years of engineering school and many years of engineering work would not have been proved a waste of time, especially when it comes to simply straightening out a key to fit a lock.

Well, so far both my friend and I had failed miserably at that.

It finally occurred to me that we were part of the riding group from our church.  People who attend churches are supposed to pray to God, in part, for assistance.  In fact, they say the best procedure when confronted with a problem is to pray, then do what you can. 

I turned away a little, while my friend was working on the key some more, and asked God for a bit of help.  I felt foolish bothering God -- the creator of the universe -- to help with a simple bent key.

I asked anyway. It was a quick, one sentence prayer.  Nothing at all elaborate. Certainly not showy, and my friend did not even know I had done it. 

No sooner had I uttered my "amen," than my friend said, "I've got it!"   I could scarcely believe what had just happened.  I looked at him, then at the key turning in the ignition lock, and back at him.  I am certain that my mouth was agape.  The key did, indeed, work.

I firmly believe that God guided the hands of my friend, even as I was praying. 

We had had it backwards.  We did what little we were capable of, then thought to pray. 

That was not the only instance like it I have had.  You may recall that I had a little "off-road-experience" not long after I bought the bike.  (In that case, it was absolutely unintentional, not like some of my gravel road excursions since then.)  After a foray onto a grassy berm, my key was bent over in the ignition lock cylinder.  It would not operate the lock at all, and I only had the one key for the bike at that time.  I tried repeatedly -- and somewhat impatiently, I might add -- to straighten up the key enough to get it working.  I hoped that I could then have a copy of it made.  Nothing I did seemed to help straighten the key sufficiently so it would function. 

I was working on the bike in our garage, and finally, in desperation, dropped to my knees and asked God for help.  I then made a further slight adjustment to the key, and it immediately turned in the lock.  No resistance whatsoever.  A perfectly operating system. 

With tears in my eyes both of shame for not having asked earlier, and of joy for the victory, I thanked God for His help with my tiny-to-Him problem.

That time too, I had had it backwards.  Why am I so thoughtless and stubborn to suppose that I am on my own and can handle everything myself?  When will I learn to lean on God's strong and ever-available arms

Ah, I can hear some of you saying, "It was just coincidence both times, Bucky."

I understand your skepticism.  Remember, I too am inherently skeptical in my nature.

No, these two times -- and many others besides -- were not chance or coincidence.  All of my human skills had been exhausted; I was at the end of my rope, yet the results of prayer were immediate and dramatic. 

It has to be something else: The power of God. 

By the way, now I always carry a spare key
in my pocket whenever I am out. 
I think God expects us to be well prepared -- to avoid
needing His help in the first place.

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