“Would this be any good?” asked Bilbo…. “I found it on the ground where the trolls had their fight.” He held a largish key. – The Hobbit, Chapter 2
After coming down from the mountains, the three trolls – William, Bert, and Tom – had pillaged villages near Rivendell. They finally settled in the woods not far from the road, and from there they waylaid travelers.
The trolls chose this spot for a reason: They can’t bear sunlight, which turns them into stone. Staying awake all night – on the graveyard shift, so to speak – they hide during the day in a cave or hole. Bur right here William, Bert, and Tom had discovered a cave with a stone door. It was the perfect hidey-hole.
The cave, as it turned out, was an ancient treasure trove, complete with a key to unlock the door. (Now, what are the odds of that?) William, as leader, kept the key in his pocket. But after catching
Bilbo, he and Bert began fighting like dogs, rolling on the ground, kicking and pounding each other. And the key tumbled out of his pocket.
Now, with the trolls turned to stone, Thorin and company were safe. But the dwarves and Bilbo still had no food. So Gandalf reminded them that the trolls must have a cave nearby.
After a careful search, they did find a stone door in the side of the hill – but no matter what they did, they couldn’t open it. Soon the dwarves were exhausted and cross.
That’s when Bilbo held up the key and asked, “Would this be any good?” Gandalf snatched the key, inserted it in the keyhole, and opened the door. Inside, the travelers found not only food to eat, but pots of gold coins and several swords. The food filled their bellies and the coins provided wealth. Two of the swords, in particular, proved to be extremely valuable.
A key is such a small thing. And the Bible asks, “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10)
The answer, unfortunately, is that most of us have at one time or another despised small things. Yet those things are often the key to solving the larger problems that beset us. Sometimes we literally need a key – we’ve probably all locked ourselves out of our house or car at some time. And if you’ve ever forgotten the password to your email account or couldn’t remember the PIN for your bank card, you know the frustration of being unable to get the information or money you desperately need.
We can’t be held responsible if our keys get lost while trolls battle – but as we all know, that’s usually not how things are misplaced. Important items go missing because we’re in a hurry, or we don’t pay enough attention to put them in their proper place.
Some people are so meticulous and methodical that they almost never have this problem. Good for them. But even the best-organized people can misplace things. Then even they get down on the floor to search, look through dresser drawers, and turn pockets inside-out trying to figure out just where “it” is.
But perhaps the worst thing is to look and look for a lost item, only to realize later that it was in front of us the whole time.
That can happen with the “keys” of scripture: Sometimes we wonder what to do in a new or perplexing
situation, only to kick ourselves later – after we’ve mishandled things – when we learn that the Bible speaks clearly on that very subject and situation. Yet many of us, because of a lack of knowledge if even the most basic scriptures, fail to do the right thing at the right time. Even if we’re vaguely aware that a certain verse says something along the lines of such-and-such, we don’t remember exactly what it says – and often have no clue where in the Bible it can be found.
Jesus promised, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit longs to remind us what God’s Word says – but we need to read the Bible in the first place to learn what Jesus said.
As we read Scripture, we may wonder, How does this apply today? That’s fine – if we turn that question into a prayer, God can provide answers for everyday living, even for the most complex
Don’t despise the “day of small things.” Small things are often the keys to vast treasures.
– A Hobbit Devotional by Ed Strauss