The Key that Fits

Discovering the key to a relationship with God.
by Edward Bentley, LC | Source:

I have always found the picture of Christ, holding a lantern in his hand, knocking at the door a great image of how a vocation works. If you notice, there is no door handle on the outside. Christ knocks, but only the one called can open the door. The key to unlock and open the door to Christ and to the vocation is a relationship of trust with him. This is the only key that will give the generosity to say “Yes” to what he is asking. However, as it happens in life, we must try many different keys or many different perspectives on the relationship of trust with Christ before finding the one that opens the door. 

Usually, the first key doesn’t fit. This perspective of trust sees Christ as we see a doctor. We trust him within his field of expertise and believe that the medicine that he tells me to take with make me better. However, we would never trust him to resolve a family conflict or to help me with my calculus. It would be absurd! In the same way, we trust God when it comes to faith issues like what to believe regarding revelation and eternal life. We know that he will be there for us as a last resort, but in day to day matters, he doesn’t enter in. John Paul II called this “compartmentalizing of our faith.” It becomes something we do for an hour on Sunday or even during a time set aside everyday, but when that final Amen is said, our thoughts go elsewhere and God is left behind in the pews. Though there is agreement with God on what he has to say, there is no real relationship with a God. Like the doctor, he is just an acquaintance. This key doesn’t fit because it isn’t compatible with the keyhole. 

The second key on the key ring fits in the hole, but won’t allow the key to turn. This perspective of trust sees Christ like we would a friend. There is a real esteem for the person that he is and what he has to say. We share our point of views and opinions, hopes and dreams. In knowing them more intimately, their strengths and weaknesses become apparent. Though I would seek my friend’s advice on even personal matters, I know there are some things we don’t see eye to eye on. Seeing God from this perspective, we live according to our conscience or try not to commit grave sins because we follow God for who he is, but we put limits. When what God has to say is demanding, we rely on our own good common sense and ways of seeing things. This common sense keeps us from exercising trust in God. It allows for a different perspective and different criteria than God’s. Following this logic, no one would ever follow the consecrated vocation. Their good common sense would point out that it would crazy to throw away their life and future plans for an uncertain future of poverty, chastity and obedience. Though we are willing to trust more fully in Christ, this key doesn’t go deep enough into the keyhole to unlock it. 

These keys don’t work because God asks for more; he asks for everything. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that “anyone that does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Lk. 18:17). Christ proposes a child for his immense trust and dependence on others. Little children never second guess their parents because it is not what their parents say that matters, but that it is their parents that say it. This is the disposition that all Christians are called to have before God. This is the key that goes much deeper than trusting in God because I agree with his teachings or want to be his friend on my own terms. 

Though a child grows out of this all-encompassing trust with his parents, this should never happen with God. When the road is not clear ahead and uncertainty sets in, trust in God is a greater response than trust in what may seem the best route from the human perspective. This is where the choice lies in every vocation and generosity is demanded before the call. This generosity before the vocation is only possible when trust in God is at the foundation. It’s the key that fits.

Edward Bentley, LC studies for the priesthood in Rome.

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