We have been posting a series of articles to do with the subject Key People at the End of the Age. We began by talking about the popular view that so called ’key people’ are somehow, by virtue of their education, or pedigree or skills or innate character traits, deemed to be indispensable. Hopefully I showed why that notion is not compatible with the kingdom of God.

No, a key person in the Kingdom of God—especially in days like these which very well could be the end of the age referred to in the Bible–must go through some things. So we come to the process of how keys are made. What is the process and what is the significance of each part of the process?

First we talked about Presenting a Blank. Next we talked about the absolutely necessity of staying locked in for entire process. Today I’d like to meditate on the idea that keys are cut not made. Made speaks of fabrication and human creativity. Cut refers to conformity and the external actions of God that produce character.

When I originally went to the hardware store to get a key made or copied, the man went out of his way to explain every step of the process in great detail. It was no different when it came to this step. He said “You originally asked me to make a key. Allow me to correct you. Keys are not made they are cut. Once the key is locked in, then the cutting takes place. Everything that cut this key will cut the blank to make the new one…the copy if you will.

The sound of a key being cut reminds me of the sound the dentist’s drill makes when he or she gets deep into drilling a molar…a different bit is used and it makes horrible sound. The dentist will (if one whines like a small child as I am wont to do) explain that this drilling is necessary before the filling takes place. That’ll preach!

Why, I have often wondered, is it necessary for us to suffer?
C.S. Lewis in his book The Problem of Pain wrote,

“Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over—I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.”

Lewis’s mentor, George MacDonald wrote

“The Son of Man came not that men might not suffer but that our sufferings might be like His…”

“Tribulation worketh…” wrote the Apostle Paul. Tribulation (Thlibow in the Greek) means to be forced through a narrow opening. It is the word the ancients used to describe a mother’s birth canal No one could ever argue that there is no suffering in childbirth. No, for new life to begin, there must be contractions, pain and anguish… in order that new life can be birthed.

Some things no longer fit… for instance the umbilical cord that connected (past tense) the baby to its mother… No, now the child must face the trauma of birth to breathe the new air of the new realm into which it has been born. So it is with suffering or cutting. To release or reveal the diamond the diamond cutter must take his hammer to the rough-cut stone that will yield the precious stone.

To be a key person, we must share in the sufferings of Christ. “It has been granted to you to suffer” said the Apostle Peter. Paul, his second letter to the Corinthians, said that our ability to be any comfort to others is contingent on our own experience of God’s comfort…as we suffer.

I have noticed it to be true in ministry, that often what I share about my own sufferings is the very touch point by which the Lord uses the lessons of suffering in my life to comfort another. One of the most powerful experiences I had at Ground Zero occurred when we as chaplains were tasked with accompanying family members who lost loved ones on Sept. 11th to the actual “Pile”… to see the only real grave their loved ones would have.

On the very first trip, the Mayor’s point person for caring for family members introduced the team that would accompany these grieving family members to see the horror that was Ground Zero. As Lt.Telesco,  a psychologist with the NYPD, told the group of fifty family member on that first trip.

“There is one other group of folks that are going to make this trip with you” She then introduce a goup of survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing. These folks traveled to New York at their own expense to be with you today…because they understood that they above anyone else might know something of what you feel today.”

Wow! It was like a warm blanked being placed on you as you lay on the Emergency room gurney.

To be a key person in such a time as this will, of a necessity, involve suffering and tribulation. We can grouse at it, whine about it, or embrace it. If we are locked in to the process, The Holy Spirit will help us.

Remember the incident in the Bible where Jesus used a coin to teach his disciples a lesson.  One of them picked up a coin. Jesus said, “Whose image is on it?” “Caesar’s” they replied. Well then said Jesus, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The word translated image is derived for a root word Karaktehr from which we get our word character. It means literally to carve or stamp an image into a medium using a sharp instrument. Sounds like ‘cutting’ doesn’t it? Even Jesus Learned obedience through the things He suffered.

T.S. Eliot wrote a powerful poem

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part
And beneath the bleeding hands we see
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart

To be a Key Person in days like these it is necessary that we must suffer and “share in the sufferings of Christ in order that the we might share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17)

I close with the words to a chorus we used to sing

Make me like you
Make me like you
You are a servant
Make me one too
Lord I am willing
Do what You must do
To make me like You Lord make me like You

Dr. J.