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The Keys

Looking out the window of this big ol’ jet aero-liner I see the Florida Keys. Driving along through the Keys is infinitely more enjoyable (and longer-lasting) than flying above them, but you still get a sense of the tranquility and beauty of island life under the bright sub-tropical sun.

My dad grew up around the Keys and if afforded me the pleasure of visiting there many times. A few years ago he and I drove to Key West during the July 4th holiday, ate a grouper sandwich, and drove through the village.

All of the Keys have their own unique charm and story, Key West’s being the most well-known. I like one of the middle Keys, Islamorada. On this small rise of land out of the sea, there is a place that I have taken my own children to twice – Theater of the Sea. It is a great, small, sea-life park with dolphins (or is it porpoises?), sharks, fish of all kinds, a walrus and a couple of seals. It is a fun place to enjoy.

Further up north in the Keys is John Pennekamp State Park, where you can charter a glass bottom boat to go offshore and see the famous underwater statue of Jesus Christ. This place is a haven for snorkelers and divers, plus the safer people who just look through the glass-bottom of the boat.

Speaking of Jesus and the Keys, there was a time when he was spending a significant day with his closest followers, commonly referred to as the Disciples, when he began talking about the Keys. You say you did not know Jesus ever talked about the Keys? Well, if you did not know that where have you been hiding? Of course he did!

It is recorded by the follower named Levi, later called Matthew. He wrote a biography of Jesus’ life and right near the middle of this book (not surprising called “Matthew’s Good News”) he is relating a camping trip that he and the other followers took with Jesus. Their travels took them to a mountainous area above the region of Galilee in northern Israel. The place was called Ceserea Phillipi. This was a place like, say, Cassadaga, Florida. Cassadaga is a town populated by pagans, witches, those interested in the occult and out-of-the-mainstream religion of a decidedly non-Judeo-Christian slant.

Here in CP (it’s easier than spelling it every time) there were shrines and altars and people and places dedicated to such pursuits. Jesus, in a stroke of genius if you ask me, took his followers here to discover something about themselves and about him. His followers were probably not too comfortable in this place and he knew it. No one likes to go to places that are rather spooky on purpose. Still, Jesus takes them there and asks what the word on the street is concerning him. Well, the answers were pretty conservative – “you are a prophet like Jeremiah or Isaiah or Elijah.” That is until the impetuous Peter chimed in. He said, “You aren’t that, you are more. In fact, we all grew up hearing about the Messiah that would come from Israel. We heard about the Anointed One that would emancipate us. You are him. You are not Joseph’s son, you are the Son of the God who lives.”

I can imagine the eyes and the gasps that happened about then. All eyes were on Peter until that fateful moment when he stopped talking and then like heads at a tennis match when the ball goes to the other side of the court, they swiveled to see Jesus’ reaction. What would he say? What would he do? How would he respond to Peter? I mean, if Peter was wrong, this was a death-penalty infraction. You could not blaspheme or trivialize God. It was, shall we say, out of bounds. What would the line judge say?

Jesus, with a wry smile on his face, responded, “Son of Jonah, you got it! In fact, this fact will make your life blessed in every way.” Peter smiled, then Jesus went on. “You did not get this information from a book or another person, but God himself has let you know that this is the truth. Because it is the truth, every power you can imagine that is unknown and spooky around you, will pale in comparison. I am going to begin with you and this group and I am going to build people into a team so powerful that nothing, not even the gates of hell, will be able to overcome them. They will be in action until the end of the world.”

But what about the Keys, you ask? Oh yeah. Then Jesus says, “I am going to give you the Keys to the Kingdom and whatever you need to unlock, you can unlock. Whatever you need to lock, you can lock.” In other words, “I am somebody in God and you can be too!”

Keys are ideas, realities, thoughts, convictions that enable your belief. It helps you unlock the mysteries of life, one at a time. Keys also can take ideas and realities, memories and regrets and lock them away so that you do not suffer from them anymore. In the sea of life, it is great to have a Key on which you can enjoy the warmth of life instead of having to always stay in the waves of the sea and taken with the current of the tide.

So, next time you need relief, take to the Keys. It’s a great place to unwind and recharge.

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