When I turned 50, I decided to do something really difficult. I enrolled in a university course to learn Biblical Greek. And, trust me when I say, this in no way is a brag – because I struggled through it and took far far longer than the average Biblical Greek student ordinarily takes to complete this course. I had to do twenty translation tests and then two major translations exams of the New Testament’s Greek text into English. I scraped through the course and somehow managed to pass it. I can testify that learning another language later in life is really hard! This is why I have the utmost respect for non-English-speaking migrants who come to our country and manage to learn English. Learning languages is not the only thing I find difficult. I envy those people who do the things easily that I find difficult to do or understand (like quadratic mathematic equations for example). Over the years I have pondered why it is that different people doing the same task can result in a person finding it incredibly easy who then gets it done quickly, and why another other person finds it next-to-impossible and as a result gives up trying to do it. I have discovered the answer to this conundrum lies in the “mat” principle.
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
THE MAT PRINCIPLE
Imagine coming to an impressive holiday home that someone has lent you for your holiday. It has a large imposing door with a very sophisticated locking system. The owner of the holiday house has told you that when you arrive, you can just unlock the door and go on in and make yourself at home. Somehow in this conversation you forgot to ask for a key and the owner never mentioned it. You arrive. You turn the handle on the front door but it is clearly locked. You remember what the owner said and try all sorts of ways to open the locked door. You punch in a set of random numbers into the keypad, your press your hand on the finger-print sensor, you look into the retinal scanner – but the locked door remains unlocked even after hours of trying everything conceivable to open it. Eventually the owner turns up to see how you have settled in to his holiday home. Before you can retell him about all your vain efforts to unlock the door (and he is assuming that you have only just arrived), he walks up the door, lifts the door mat, picks up the key, hands it to you, you put it in the lock and without even turning it your hear each of the locking mechanisms of door undo their bolts and the door opens!
The ‘mat principle’ of accomplishing difficult things is simply this: it’s easy when you know how. Without knowing how to do something, doing that something is very difficult! A few months ago Kim and I had to go to Victoria. I had booked a car with my usual rent-a-car business. When I walked into their office the lady asked me, “Would you like an up-grade?” I excitedly allowed them to upgrade us into a brand new X5 Hybrid BMW SUV. I was given a thingy and told where I would find the car. As long as I had the thingy, the car would start and would be able to drive it they assured me. I got the car, wiped the drool from the corners of my mouth and sat in the car. It had 27kms on the odometer! I pushed what I thought was the start button, dash lights turned on but the car didn’t start! Maybe you have to push it twice I thought. So I pushed the start button again and dash lights turned off. Oh, maybe this is just the dash lights start button? But where’s the engine start button. Unable to see any other start button, I pushed the one and only start button again. This procedure went on for some time as Kim and I sat in the undercover airport rental car park. Then a thought occurred to me: Hybrid. What if the car had actually started each time I have pressed the start button. This time, after pressing the start button I eased my foot of the brake pedal to see what would happen. The car moved! But it moved absolutely silently. It was a hybrid car and it was running on its electric motors rather than its petrol motor! I wish I had known this before I got in this new car. It’s amazing how easy things are when you have been shown how to do it or to understand it.
¶ “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
THE MOST DIFFICULT THING NOW MADE EASY
The most impossibly difficult thing that any person could do is to make themselves sinless and therefore righteous in the eyes of God. In ancient times men like Job pondered this question (Job 9:2). These ancients were aware of how holy, just, good, and righteous God was. They also knew that compared with God they were unclean, sinful, selfish, sinners. Even though God instigated the temporary practice of animal sacrifices to remind these ancients of their true spiritual condition before Him, these bloody sacrifices never cleansed anyone’s consciences of the guilt and shame brought about by their sins (Heb. 9:9). This problem remained unsolved until God Himself took on human flesh and became one of us. He lived a sinless life and then laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice for sins of all mankind who turn to Him and receive His pardon. His sacrifice of His life now cleanses the repentant human heart from the guilt and shame of our sins (Heb. 9:14). The key to unlock this previously unlockable door — that so many people have tried to open with religion, good works, church attendance, better education, or Eastern mysticism, but have failed — is found “under the mat” and is called faith. It is our faith (our trust) in what Christ has done for us that opens the most important of Life’s Doors: the door that leads to eternal life in God’s presence. This is why Christ said that He was the Door.
¶ So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:7, 9
Under the mat God has put “the key” to unlock the previously unlockable door: even this is a gift from God: faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Even finding the key under the mat is the result of us crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness. These kinds of prayers often sound like, “God help me!” “God, please forgive me.” “God, I need You.”
“God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I thank You that You have sent Your Son to be my sacrifice for my sins. Please cleanse me from my sin. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and I want to live a new life with Your help. Amen.”
Amen indeed. I hope that each of us can help someone ‘find the key under the mat’ that can open the door to peace with God which results in them finding the purpose for their life and the meaning behind every setback in life. The principle of God enabling us to do previously difficult things also carries over into many of things that He will enable us to do once we have opened the Door of Salvation. This is the testimony of every person who came to faith in Christ and then helped to change the world in some amazing way. As you walk with Christ and He leads you to a locked door, you might want to start your quest to unlock it by checking to see if there’s a mat at the foot of the door and whether God has placed the next key of faith there for you.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
5 Things We Need To Do To Break Our Church’s 200 Barrier, Premium Audio
Apologetics Part 1 – Introduction To Apologetics, Premium Audio
Apologetics Part 2 – The Apologetic Arguments For God, Premium Audio
Apologetics Part 3 – The Apologetic Arguments For The Bible, Premium Audio