Not every game can stand the test of time. Don’t believe me? For every Super Mario Bros. or Legend of Zelda that looks and feels just as solid as you remember it, there are those other poor monsters that simply were not meant to enter into this millenium. Go ahead and dig that old PS1 out of the garage and give Bubsy 3D a try. Wait… before you start make sure you place a wastebasket next to you.. for when you feel the motion sickness kick in. So many games transported me to another place when I first played them, yet after all these years they are almost unrecognizable. Fortunately, the original Metal Gear Solid is everything you remember, and the characters and the unique challenges they present still feel fresh even after all of these years. But… that keycard backtracking though….
For those who have not indulged in this particular mission, a brief synopsis. In the midst of your world-saving mission to stop a nuclear warhead launch you are tasked with inputting three card keys into three separate terminals. Sounds easy, but the problem is you only have ONE key. How can one key operate three separate terminals when each require a unique input? And that’s where the twist comes in… your card key was actually ALL THREE KEYS the whole time. In order to activate the terminals the key had to change shape… and the only way to do this was to bring the key to areas with dramatically different temperatures. The key had to be entered into one terminal at room temperature, another terminal after being exposed to high heat, and finally inserted into the last terminal after being frozen in a below-zero environment.
Now, this does result in some less than enjoyable backtracking to a couple of the areas that present the environment necessary to create the change in the key, enabling it to serve it’s purpose. But it is all part of the process that allows this one key to serve each of these unique purposes while still being the same key the entire time. It is the abrupt and distinct changes in the temperature and the pressure of the environment that takes this seemingly ordinary key and empowers it to do extraordinary things.
We all go through phases of life that are meant to mold and make us into the people we are meant to be. But these phases are rarely what we would choose or imagine. In Jeremiah 1 we find this bright-eyed young man receiving his original commission from the Lord in Jeremiah chapter 1:
Jeremiah 1:4-9 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
Sounds pretty inspiring… who wouldn’t want to be told that they were chosen and formed from the point of conception for such an important mission? And ALSO given the words to say for each situation fresh from the throne of God Himself? Sounds pretty reassuring, right? Pretty grand destiny ahead for this young man… unfortunately his path was not as smooth as this start would seem to imply. Jeremiah was given the challenging role of preaching to a people who would never listen to him, as we see later in chapter 7…
Jeremiah 7:27 “Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you.”
Jeremiah was given what may the most unwanted and undesirable position in the entire Old Testament… a front row seat to the fall of Jerusalem. But it would be from this pressure cooker that the “weeping prophet” would both preach and write the definitive tome on the fall as well as prophecy the eventual rise of the nation of Israel once again. Much like the key cards in Metal Gear, it would be the rising temperature of the challenges he faced that would shape Jeremiah as he proceeded with the message he was burdened to deliver. And this path took a heavy toll, with Jeremiah proclaiming in chapter 20:
Jeremiah 20:14-18 Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me! Let the man be cursed Who brought news to my father, saying, “A male child has been born to you!” Making him very glad. And let that man be like the cities Which the Lord overthrew, and did not relent; Let him hear the cry in the morning And the shouting at noon, Because he did not kill me from the womb, That my mother might have been my grave, And her womb always enlarged with me. Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, That my days should be consumed with shame?
When you are hating on your own birthday party, you know you are having a rough day. And in all seriousness, I have been there more times than I can count. But whether it was the high heat of enduring the pain of delivering an unpopular message to a hostile audience or the ice-cold feeling of being all alone in his predicament, his key card was still exactly what it needed to be for the moment he was in.
I don’t know which season you are enduring… the pressure and heat of the furnace or the frigid cold of loneliness and despair. But I DO know that the word that the Lord gave you when everything was room temperature has not changed. And in order for you, the key, to be effective in each season of your life He may change the environment enough for you to be shaped into exactly what your current situation needs. Different times and different places will require different growth and changes from you, just as Jeremiah found as his situation continually deteriorated. He was in and out of prison, forsaken by all at various points, and his pulpits ranged from the king’s palace to the stocks in the public square. In the end, he delivered the message he was given and fulfilled his calling regardless of how his external situation fluctuated.
Jeremiah may not sound like the most reassuring story, but it is a true, real-world example of what being a follower of Christ actually looks like. And we can find encouragement in how he endured these seasons even as his card key had to painfully adjust to an ever-changing set of external factors bent on tearing him down. In the end, these challenges were what shaped him into exactly what the situation called for. And it is the same way with each of us. Don’t resist the Potter’s touch as He shapes you into what your path calls for. And He may reshape you several times as your journey continues based on the unique needs of your mission field. Just hold fast to the knowledge that He chose you for this because for someone you are the ONLY key that will fit when the time is right, and it will be BECAUSE of the heat/cold you endured that you are now in the right place at the right time.
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