Even though we moved a lot while I was growing up, and I was quite used to change, the first day of high school was scary. My father dropped my brother and I off in the parking lot and drove away. Everything seemed new and ominous. My brother and I walked to the office and told the shocked lady behind the counter that we were new to the school and needed to register. They had no idea that we were coming. I could see the irritation on the faces of the school officials as we added one more frustration to their chaotic first day of school.
During PE, the coach assigned all of us combination locks for our gym lockers. Unfortunately, he ran out of class time to issue all the locks, so a few of us had to stay late to receive a lock and combination. Once the coach finally handed me the combination written on a little slip of paper, I quickly glanced at it, stuck it in my pocket, and ran to my next period. Out of breath, I sat down at my desk and reached into my pocket to retrieve the combination and write it down in my binder. The combination was nowhere to be found. Fear hit me like a sledgehammer. There was no way I could remember the combination as I had only briefly scanned it as I put it in my pocket. After class, I retraced my steps and looked everywhere, but I could not find the combination anywhere.
Well, time is usually a good ally, so I decided to see if it would solve the dilemma. At first it was not a problem. We were not required to dress down for PE for a few days, so not being able to open my locker was not a big deal. Regardless, the inevitable doom weighed heavily on my mind. So during lunch and after school, I would go by the gym and try different combinations in an attempt to open the lock, all to no avail.
The fateful day arrived when we were required to dress for PE class. I was somewhat fearful of authority figures, but seeing that there was now no alternative, I mustered up the nerve to go see the coach and confess that I had lost my locker combination, and I could not remember it.
Of course, the coach made it seem like it was not as big a problem as I had feared, but when he looked at his master list, he told me the bad news: the lock I was issued was not a school lock, and they did not have its combination. Apparently, some student had lost his lock the prior year and purchased a lock to replace it. The coach said that if I could not remember the combination, he would have to cut off the lock, and I would have to buy a new one.
We were poor, so I did not know if we had enough money to buy a lock. It was a slow walk home from school that day. My mother confirmed my worst suspicion when I asked her if I could buy a lock at the store for $3.50. Now I had a real problem. I could not remember my combination, we did not have money to replace the lock, and if I did not dress for PE, it would affect my grade. Needless to say, I was in the gym every chance I got, trying every combination that popped into my brain. I tried systematic approaches. I tried familiar-sounding combinations. You name it, and I tried it, all without any success. As the week progressed, each day the coach would dock my grade. PE was a required course for all semesters to graduate from high school. I was in a panic. I had only been in high school for two weeks, and I was not ever going to graduate. My whole life would be ruined.
Finally, the last day before I would fail PE and not be able to graduate from high school, I was in the gym after school continuing to try different combinations. I realized that it was impossible for me to remember the combination. The only solution was to turn to the Lord and ask for help.
I waited until all of the football players were dressed and had left the locker room. I knelt down next to the bench between the lockers and humbly and desperately pleaded with the Lord to help me in my predicament. I then got up from my knees, took the lock in my hand, and turned the combination to 17-10-24. Pop! It opened right up! I was so shocked that I almost didn’t remember the combination.
I learned a great lesson that day: earnest prayer is the combination that unlocks the treasure chest of heaven. Perfunctory prayer does not cut it. But when we pray with the same desperation that Moses had when he and the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, we are truly open to receive revelation. I find it interesting that in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ promises to fill us with the Holy Ghost if we hunger and thirst after righteousness as one starving yearns for food and water. (Matthew 5:6).
God respects us and our free will. Consequently, he waits for us to invite Him into our life. Therefore, let’s remember to pray earnestly and invite God to fill us with His spirit so we will be open to receive Him and the blessings He wants to give us.