Ever suffer a paper cut? For such a small wound to cause such discomfort is quite remarkable. I worked in a metal fabrication shop for a while when I was in college. I discovered something else at least as miserable as a paper cut…a metal shavings cut.

After the machinists were through, I would be tasked with handling the shavings left over from the fabrication process… a tiny, almost invisible metal shaving can cause an annoying, miserably painful cut.  It’s impossible to handle these miniature razor blades with your bare hands. Even with the proper gloves you can still get cut.

In previous articles I have been talking about what it means to be a ‘key person’ in such a time as this. To recap, we talked about the whole notion of being a key person—that the world’s definition of a key person has to do with traits or abilities that make one indispensable. To be a ‘key person’ in God’s economy of things, however, is the opposite. To become a key person (like the first step in copying a key) the first thing is to ‘present a blank.’

The next step in making a key (or a key person} is to get and to stay ‘locked in for the entire process.’ You will remember that I wrote that if the blank key is not locked in, once the cutting starts—things will spin out of control and the key will be ruined.

Next I brought up an important point. As I watched a man make a copy of a key for me in my local hardware store. the man said. “Keys are not made—they’re Cut.” He went on,

“Now that the blank is locked in…everything that has cut the one key will now cut the blank.” The motor whirred—the metal was cut and sure enough, the blank became a replica of the original.

My hardware tutor now said, “Put on these safety glasses—This is when the sparks fly. You can’t handle the new key yet…until the sharp edges are ground off. It’s time for the Grinder.” He was right. Sparks did fly as the grinding tool removed the sharp edges.

What I offer next for your consideration is an observation that it has taken a lifetime to get my head around. It is not possible to become a key person in the Hand of God without experiencing the grinder of accountability. “As iron sharpeneth iron, so one man sharpeneth the countenance of his brother.” (Proverbs 27:17) We each of us and all of us have sharp edges that can only be dealt with by interacting with others—even if the sparks fly!

When I attended the Basic Course for Navy Chaplains, our training consisted of chaplain specific skills and protocols and military training, such as

  • the proper wearing of uniforms
  • military courtesies
  • military justice
  • And drilling (marching in formation) Lots of drilling…

I considered myself to be somewhat athletic and coordinated. I was stunned to learn that it is not so easy to take a rag tag group of ministers and priests and train them to function as one unit. I was surprised to learn that sheer repetition—in tandem with others– is the only way to learn to move as a unit…all the while listening for the next command…the command to march and the command to halt…and the command to change direction.

The paved area where we practiced drilled was called “The Grinder.” As we neared the end of our basic training, it was rewarding to no longer hear many feet randomly hitting the pavement, but one footfall, one unit in sync and intentionally listening for the next command.

To be a key person is to be one who has an attitude of submission. “Be subject to one another” said the Apostle Paul. The Greek word translated ‘subject’ is actually a military term meaning “finding one’s place in ranks.”

Is there anyone who has served in the military who does not remember the command “Dress right…Dress”?  You immediately line up directly behind the man in front of you and extend your right hand to the right to insure proper spacing and alignment with those next to you.

My hardware store Guru closed his tutorial on the Grinder with this. “Now that the sharp edges have been ground off, you can handle it.”

Here is an exercise that may help us to see how the Lord uses people to deal with our sharp edges. Next time you are in church. Imagine the pastor saying “Dress right dress!” Then picture yourself lining up behind someone you might not usually associate with. Then extend your arm to the right and realize that you are in ranks with some other people you might not ‘prefer…’

Then as the pastor preaches the Word of God, remember that we read in Hebrews, “The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword; piercing to the division of joints and marrow, soul and spirit… discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

That sort of truth can either cut you, or carve an image in you. I guess which outcome results has a lot to do with how we receive it.
Dr. J.