I remember taking tests back in my school days. I didn’t hate taking tests but they definitely weren’t my favorite things. It was however gratifying to receive a high score especially when the teacher listed the scores and you realized that you were among the top achievers. Probably the only test that I was really ever excited about was taking my driving test. Oh the freedom that a drivers license would bring! I wasn’t too concerned about passing the test because growing up on a farm I had already driven all kinds of equipment. But still there was that anticipation,and a bit of apprehension, about taking that test. Now 45 years later, and a few speeding tickets, I’m still driving and have nearly forgotten about ever having taken the test.
Life is full of tests. Most are not written tests. Many do not seem to have a specific starting time or ending time. Most of them happen without us even realizing we were taking a test until it is all over. In James 1:2-4 it states,” My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Scripture seems to imply that we should expect various trials and tests. It further implies that these tests and trials serve a greater purpose. They are part of the purifying process, like polishing precious metal. “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.”(Proverbs 17:3) In the end, tests do not only show what we know or what we can do, but more importantly tests show what we are made of, the depth of our character. After having endured such we have renewed strength and perspective. We also have the victory and humility to share our experience to encourage others. We have a testimony! Many years ago an older gentleman told me that you can’t have a testimony without a test. I have thought of that often. On occasion it has given me the courage to persevere. Some tests are much harder than others like going through cancer or losing a loved one but the minor tests serve a purpose as well. It’s the everyday life decisions that ultimately define who we are. Every day we are faced with making many decisions. Many of them we don’t even think of as decisions, such as what do I want for breakfast, what time do I have to leave for my appointment, what yardwork do I need to tackle this evening, do I have time for my son’s soccer game, can I afford the time to help my neighbor, do I have time to seek the Lord, do I really have to go to my in-laws’ event, who should I vote for, etc. etc. You get the point: it’s the everyday stuff that ends up being tests. We tend to trust ourselves in these everyday choices and only take the BIG ones to God. But, what if we really asked the Lord to order our life. Perhaps that decision; asking the Lord, seeking Holy Spirit guidance, just perhaps that is the real test. What might today look like if I surrendered every thought to the Lord?
“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog eat dog out there. The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way, never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, The Message.
Press on dear saints, tests are awaiting you. Choose Christ.
The writer is the pastor of Christ the King Church near Jackson Center.