Susan C. Anthony

Pile of keysLocks and Keys

Every spring, Susan makes an effort to restore order to our home and yard. “Organize” is one of her favorite words. Her brother and I jokingly call it the “O” word.

This year, she tried to organize the keys. She’s done that before, more than once, but like most things, they don’t stay organized. We always end up with a bunch of keys without locks and locks without keys. Unfortunately, some of the locks without keys are installed in doors. We have to be careful not to lock those doors.

Several years ago, she decided to reduce the size of my huge keychain that was wearing holes in my pockets by buying a box of padlocks with the same key, from Action Locksmith, of course. We call it the “blue key” because an earlier idea was to color code the keys and the locks with paint. Now, one little key can open a lot of locks and my jeans don't wear out as quickly.

So why, after that great idea, do we have all these padlock keys that don’t fit any lock we know of? Susan wants to throw them away, but I never like to throw away a key. I’m sure that as soon as we do, we’ll find the lock.

I mention this subject because someone once said that God uses the trials and troubles of our lives to shape us into keys that will fit the locks on certain hearts. For example, a person with cancer is better equipped to reach out to someone with cancer. A battle-hardened soldier is able to understand others who have been in combat. The mother of a disabled child can talk to another mother of a disabled child at a level the rest of us cannot approach.

If you’ve ever watched a key being made, it’s a hot, grinding process. It probably doesn’t “feel” very good from the point of view of the key. But that hard process is what makes the key useful.

Some keys, like our blue key, open a lot of locks. Some people, like Billy Graham, have a gift for reaching a lot of people. Some keys work only in a few locks. The only way to find out how many locks a key will fit is to try.

(Demonstrate trying several locks. No. No. No. Yes.)

I could have stopped trying after the first three locks and concluded that the key wouldn’t fit any locks. But the fact that it didn’t fit the first three locks had nothing at all to do with whether it would unlock the fourth. It’s not the key’s “fault” that it didn’t work on the first three locks!

The Bible clearly says that our mission is to share the Word of God, both the Living Word (Jesus), and the written word (Bible). We are to warn others that there will be judgment, that we will all be called to account for everything we do, and we are to share with them God’s love and promise of mercy for all who call on His name. Many people will not listen. But if they know where you stand and if they know that you care about them, something might change in their lives someday. They might remember what you said and come talk to you.

Our job is not to pressure or try to force anyone to believe or do anything. Our job is just to share the truth of the Bible and the truth about our personal relationship with Jesus. The results we should leave up to God.

Some of you remember the book Susan and I sent to about 100 Christian and non-Christian friends at Christmas, Whatsoever Things Are True. For the most part, people have not responded. A few people had great e-mail discussions with Susan about Jesus and the Bible. In their cases, the key seemed to fit into the lock but didn’t turn. In one case, though, the key turned and a very special friend’s heart opened. She received and read the book the day she discovered a serious symptom that turned out to be cancer. Here are her words:

It must have been a God thing that your book came at the perfect time. It’s been sitting in a mailbag at my sister’s for a couple of months and we finally picked it up.

After reading your book, I have rededicated my life to Jesus. Your book, I can’t tell you how much it meant to us. This has been a time of reflection for me, and rededication to God.

Sometimes when I think about this disease, I just want my life back. But then I realize it’s not my life anyway. It’s God’s life. He’s the boss. It’s been hard because he’s been convicting me of what a sinner I really am. I realize how much forgiveness I really need. I need His forgiveness and I can’t do it myself.

I think that I’ve been so guilty of calling upon God when things are bad and wanting to go my own way when things are good. When one of my relatives had cancer, I prayed and prayed and then forgot about it when they operated and got all the cancer. I feel guilty that it came to this, that I had to have this disease to really become convicted. I don’t even know what this is. I don’t even have a diagnosis yet, but why did it have to come to this?

We sing a song sometimes at church,The Battle Belongs to the Lord. God wants us to do our job, not to worry about the whole battle or the whole war. It is His gift to us to ask us to talk to others, because it is so wonderful when someone does respond and surrender their life to Jesus. People are the treasures we should work to store up in heaven. Friends in heaven will be friends forever.

In the meantime, as we go through the trials and pressure and trouble in life, it might help to remember that God is shaping each of us into keys that will fit the locks of certain people’s hearts, maybe people we haven’t even met. Susan's book didn't touch 99 other hearts in the same way, at least as far as we know, but that says nothing at all about whether it will fit the 100th.

Go on to read How to Determine Your Value
Source: ┬ęSusan C. Anthony