This is part three of a series of posts I’ve titled Key People at the End of the Age. In the first article, I talked about the whole notion of being a ‘key person’ and what the Word of God says about the subject. What and who we deem to be indispensable, the Lord views in an entirely different fashion.

Next I talked about how physical keys are made and how the process begins with “presenting a blank.” If I have learned anything after almost forty years of ministry, it is that the Lord doesn’t need my advice. In fact, all I bring to the equation is weakness and sinfulness and a penchant for pride and stubbornness.

I believe it was Bill and Gloria Gaither who wrote “Something Beautiful.” One lyric sticks in my memory.

“Something beautiful…Something good. All my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife…but He made something beautiful of my life.”

So now we come to an essential part of the process of becoming a key person for God’s Kingdom purposes. In keeping with the analogy of the actual making of a key we need to back to the hardware store guy who was lecturing me on the process of making a key.

After he showed me what a blank looked like. He said, “Now we’re ready to place the blank into the machine.” He then warned that the blank must stay “locked in for the entire process” or it will be useless. It is also dangerous if the partially cut jagged metal flies off the machine before the process is done.

The other day I was talking with my neighbor Bob. He’s a coach and we talk sports sometimes. We were talking about the World Series. I confessed that I had hoped the Indians would have pulled it off but acknowledged that the Cubs won it fair and square. Bob said “Yeah, I’m not into it for the whole season but when the playoffs come around I follow baseball.”

I’m like that too. When it is highly publicized and current fodder for the water cooler discussions I trot out my minimal knowledge of baseball and opine as to who is the best team. You and I know for any individual or any team to reach the pinnacle of their sport, it is required that they give their all—In years of obscurity and fighting through pain and suffering recurring injuries and failure.

I think that there is a misconception out there today that to be a Christian, all you need to do is make a profession of faith and ‘identify’ as a believer. When Jesus told his disciples “Follow me” he wasn’t inviting them to read the box scores every now and then, and go The Sports Authority store and buy the team gear. No, He did not mince words. He said “Take up your cross and follow me.” I remember hearing of the little girl saying her prayers with mommy at bedtime. Kneeling at her little bed, She folded her hands, closed her eyes as tight as she could and said…Dear God….Please make me like Jesus….Only NO NAILS.”

Now I don’t know how you reacted to that story but I remember when I first heard it, feeling uncomfortable, thinking, I’m just like that. I want to be perceived as being with Jesus but I balk at the nails, and the reproach associated with walking with God in times like these. I experienced a great deal of anxiety as to whether I had the ‘right stuff’ to be a disciple. My conclusion? No I don’t have the right stuff…and I’m sorry to break it to you, but neither do you.

The Apostle Paul said the most encouraging thing to the believers in Philippi

“I thank my God every time I remember you, in all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until, now, begin confident of this—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus  Phil 1:3-6

In another letter…the last letter he would write before his execution, he wrote to Timothy “

“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” II Tim 1:11-12

Please note that Paul didn’t write these things from a villa on the Mediterranean. He wrote from prison. In II Timothy, he was ‘chained like an animal’, cold and lonely….’Come before Winter’ he wrote …and bring the cloak…the warm one…”

Clearly Paul stayed locked in for the whole process…literally to the last ‘cut’. The Lord will help us to stay locked in. He has committed to us that His Holy Spirit will help and guide and comfort us

Are you in? “Whosoever will, let him come….”

Dr. J.