Joe and Caleb went on ahead and began loading the back of the truck and it was already full when we arrived in our Pilot. Susy and JJ were with me, having left Ben and Alaina at Grammy's house. Alaina's job is cleaning so she already had her work cut out for her. Ben was just going to hang out in the warm living room, watch movies, and stay out of our way so he would not get run over. I was hoping that with all these helping hands the job would be quick and easy.
Well, I was quite surprised to find that the unit was inside on the second floor of one of the buildings. I had assumed it would be one of the large doors outside in the front, easily accessible and no stair climbing, but I was wrong. Not to mention that some of the boxes had collapsed during their stay in their metal hotel making a complete mess inside. So began the trips up and down the steps, though some of the times the guys used the freight elevator. I found it to be quite a pain in the neck because it was faster to carry more boxes down down the stairs than it took the elevator to move one load. Back and forth we went, until both vehicles were completely filled with boxes, leaving just enough room for the passengers.
We drove to our destination and began to unload. We had quite the assembly line going: the boys dropped the boxes down a board where Susy caught them and stacked them so Joe could wheel them over and I could Tetris them on the pallets near the wall. It worked until my back finally began to give me warning signs that I should stop before it gave out and then I would no longer be of any use for the next week. It took three trips back and forth, a half an hour to load, then another half an hour to unload. Three hours went by and we were looking forward to getting the job finished soon. On the last trip through the gate, the thought crossed my mind that we might get locked in since it was getting close to closing time. I brushed the crazy thought away. The gate had been open all day and even though the office had been closed since noon, I was sure there was an easy way to get out if the gate did close.
While the children finished up loading the vehicles, I cleaned up the lose items that had tumbled down in a great avalanche of boxes and baseball cards. The final step was to sweep the unit and we were finished. Exhausted, grimy, cold, and hungry, we climbed into the cars and made our way to the gate only to find it shut tight. I was ahead of Joe so he told me to drive up to it, as close as I could go and it should open. I inched close to the metal and nothing happened. We searched for a button to push, a pressure point to drive on, or anything to open the gate so we could pass through. By now it was dark and we realized there was no getting through the gate without help. I cannot begin to describe the strange feelings that began to wash over me, of desperation, fright, and helplessness. I looked around at all the doors that surrounded us, but none of them could help get us to our destination. Even if we had the combinations to open them, they would lead us to no where. There was only one way to go if only we had the key to get through.
It turned out to be the greatest illustration for my girls in Sunday school class the next day...how there is only one way to heaven and that gate is closed until we get the Key, which is Jesus Christ, Who will come live in our hearts if we only invite Him in. There are all kinds of other doors that we think may be the way to go, only to find they lead us nowhere, and may even trap us with their enticements that lie behind them. I think they understood my story, though it was a bit embarrassing to tell people that we had been locked behind the gates.
I am sure you are wondering how we got out...Joe called the number on the door of the office, but never received a call back. He decided to call the police and see if they could come to our rescue. We really did not love the idea of sleeping in the car all night long, locked behind bars. It was not a pleasant thing to think about at all. After about a half an hour of waiting, hoping, and praying for help, a truck drove into the lot and stopped at the other side. We watched with anticipation as the gate suddenly began to move and without hesitation I drove through and hollered, "We're free!"
I had thought he was coming to rescue us, but he was simply coming to get something out of his storage unit. He had a key to open the gate, something we did not have, and I have no clue why. Maybe it was because of the size of our unit, or maybe its location, but Joe had never been given a key to unlock the gate when he rented it a few years back. Joe canceled the call to the police and we finished our drive with humbled hearts and unloaded the last of the boxes, then ordered out for dinner. It was an experience I will never forget, but an experience I never hope to repeat anytime or anywhere.