Lessons on Locks


Last week, Victor came to our Ministry Center. In the two or so months that I’ve been at Emmaus, he has endeared himself to me. We often see him on Outreach, and he usually says that he’ll come to the Center, then doesn’t. I was glad to see him.

On this day, he drove over in a friend’s borrowed car. A few minutes after arriving, he couldn’t find the car keys, and then realized he had locked them in the car. Victor was distressed.

Andrew, who was working with me that day, found a wire coat hanger somewhere in our building, and he, Victor, and I headed out to the car to see if we could get it unlocked.

None of us on staff here would succeed as car thieves. Andrew tried for several minutes to get the door unlocked, but the coat hanger just wasn’t doing the trick. Victor was getting more upset each moment, exclaiming, “Oh man, oh man, I don’t know what to do! How’m I gonna get outta this one? What are we gonna do?!?” His nerves were starting to get on mine. Taking a deep breath, I said, “Victor, you know what you need to do right now? You need to ask God for help.” (In hindsight, this is probably the first thing we should’ve done anyway.)

Victor groaned. “No—ohhh, seriously!?” Like many of us, he can be pretty stubborn when it comes to letting God work in his life.

“Seriously. Just say a short prayer. You might be surprised at what happens.”

Victor hesitated, then sighed. “Okay. Yeah, you’re right.” He looked off into space for a moment and then mumbled these words:

“God, help me.”

I could tell that he meant it from his heart.

Andrew readied himself for one more try with the coat hanger. A diesel engine suddenly roared behind us, and Andrew, Victor, and I turned back to see a tow truck pulling to a stop four feet away. It came out of nowhere.

The driver hopped out, wordlessly popped open the car door, and climbed back into his truck. It was over in a matter of seconds.

“I just saved you 65 bucks!” the driver called out the open truck window as he shifted into gear and drove away.

Andrew and I looked at each other and blinked. Victor’s mouth was open in astonishment. Andrew turned to him.

“Well, I’ve never seen prayer answered that quickly.”

It wasn’t just Victor who was pleasantly surprised at how God answered his prayer. I’ve resisted God many times, too stubborn to always believe that he works everything together for our good. But, lately I’ve been challenged to surrender certain areas of my life that I’ve “locked” God out of, and in this moment I was reminded that when we surrender, he does amazing things.

The guys aren’t the only ones at Emmaus that God teaches. It was a blessing to share this lesson on locks with Victor.

(Go here to read another car-door-unlocking story.)

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