Double Meanings

Double Meanings

Sarah and Danelle

Sarah and Danelle

Around eight years ago, my daughter Sarah and her friend Danelle spent a weekend at a remote cabin. The property, owned by Danelle’s family, is located near the Boulder River, south of Big Timber, Montana. The girls were in their early twenties, a time of life when it’s tempting to think you’re immortal. But that early spring day, they ended up in a perilous situation.

ATV in MTThey headed out on a four-wheeler to find another friend’s cabin, which they thought was only a few miles away. The damp air felt cool with temperatures in the forties. Danelle remembers patches of snow still on the ground.

Following the river, they eventually came to a narrow bridge. They’d need to cross it, but the gate was locked. They tried climbing around the gate to the outside ledge of the bridge, but that didn’t work. So, rolling up their pants the girls decided to cross the river, stepping from boulder to boulder. The hip-high current of white roiling water was nearly twenty-five yards wide. The girls got a little wet in the process.

Snowmelt water is dangerously cold, and they didn’t actually know the location of the other cabin. Without the four-wheeler, they wouldn’t make much progress. The girls soon realized the futility of their plan and turned back. But when they got to the four-wheeler, the key was missing. It had been in Danelle’s coat pocket.

KeysI don’t know if you’ve ever seen a key quite that small. The black head is the size of a nickel, and the silver metal part is thin and only a ¾ of an inch long. The girls searched frantically around the four-wheeler and in all their pockets. Sarah even crossed over the rocks to comb the other shore.

Still no key.

They were in the middle of nowhere. No cell coverage, no car or truck likely to pass by. No one to help. To walk back to Danelle’s cabin in their compromised condition would have been dicey. They were miles away. Hypothermia catches many people off guard. It’s tragically easy to underestimate the elements in Montana.

Danelle and Sarah gazed at the river with wondering eyes. Panic set in.

Sarah said, “Let’s pray.” So they paused and asked God for help. Afterwards, Sarah retraced their steps across the river. Danelle yelled, “If you find that key in the river… I’ll believe that God is real!”

My daughter worked her way across the fast-moving water. You couldn’t see the bottom at all. By one specific boulder, she felt God say, “Here.” She stripped down to her underwear to keep her clothes mostly dry. Still, she’d have to go into the water—a risky choice given the temperatures. There was no other way.

She sank down, trying to steady herself in the icy current. Then she went completely under, reaching blindly with one hand. The very first thing she grabbed was the key! Utterly stunned, she burst upwards out of the water to see if it was, in fact, in her hand.

Sarah shrieked with excitement and laughter. Danelle started to cry. It had been a ridiculously impossible situation. Yet, nothing is too difficult for God.

But time was running out. Both girls were shivering and needed to warm up at the cabin. They still had to face the wind chill riding home. It had become especially precarious for Sarah. Thankfully, they made it back.

Of course, mothers like me often hear these stories after the fact. Not sure if that helps much.

A lost key can cost you your life. Not just physically, but also spiritually. God was speaking to the girls that day with greater meaning.

Look for the greater message

Look for the greater message

Keys are highly significant in Scripture and often symbolize having entry to the King’s house. Spiritually speaking, that points to salvation.

Keys also signify access to the knowledge of God’s ways—a key to understanding. Sarah thought to pray, and God gave her a supernatural sense of the key’s location. It was literally a needle-in-a-haystack situation. How can anyone explain that away?

For Danelle, finding the key was nothing short of a miracle. It opened her heart to a real and living God—a Creator who counts the hairs on her head. A heavenly Father whose thoughts about her number greater than the grains of sand. A God who know and sees and cares. The moment became a turning point for her.

At the time, Danelle was in a stage of making numerous destructive choices. She also carried the weight of condemnation and shame, growing heavier each day. But God was wooing her, patiently waiting to give her the real key to her future. Five years later, she fully committed her life to Christ and experienced the presence of God unlike anything she had ever known. She said her heart felt like it was “floating,” free from the mistakes of her past.

A lost key in a raging river and my brave daughter, potentially risking her life for the mere possibility of finding it. Can you see the spiritual parallels?

There is also a key to heaven, already found and freely offered. And Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to get it for us.

God speaks profoundly and symbolically through circumstances. I called Danelle today to confirm the details and discuss the greater message. “I’m covered with chills,” she said, realizing the double meaning. “I never thought of it that way.”

“I would have missed it too, in years past,” I said. However, if you believe God is speaking today, you can develop eyes to see and ears to hear Him, because He is closer than your skin.

Can you share an instance where something like this happened to you?


  1. Hi Susan, Just thought I would encourage you. In our prayer meeting on Friday, one of my friends said to me ‘I don’t get this, but God wants to give you a key!!!!! Thankyou for sharing.

    • Thanks John! Didn’t know you were a reader! And Nicola—Wow, that’s a crazy odd-or-God thing! Love it!!

  2. John Kramer :

    Great word this morning, totally blessed me!!
    Miss you guys!!

  3. Leah Morgan :

    Beautiful, faith-filled words that stir up my love and wonder at the goodness and the greatness of God.
    Thank you for your eyes to see, your heart to share, and your pen to write.

  4. heavens to betsy, wouldn’t you know it? god is using a word over and over plus sending pictures of the particular thing everywhere and i am watching and praying and waiting. something is UP!!!
    suzee B