“Tests” is the word that keeps coming to me. I’m not sure if it is ‘here’ as a warning or if I’m supposed to blog about it…I’m gonna fulfill the latter in hopes I don’t have to face the former. :-)
Both Charlie & Emily (my teenagers) have been put through a battery of tests lately: final exams, advanced placement tests for college credits and a driver’s test. I tend to look at tests as a means to an end–to help one move on, as long as they are passed. But, I think they are more about revealing what we’ve learned.
If we’ve actually learned the material, then a test is pretty darn easy. We breeze through it and smile. If the material isn’t really learned and understood, but is “out there somewhere” as we are tested then we struggle to recall and “find” the answers. And, if we’ve managed to cram it into short term memory for the test, then the next time we run into the material, it will all look vaguely familiar but nothing we could pass a test on.
So, where is God in this? Well, the Bible tells us He sends us tests of faith. I always took that to mean that He allows adversity to increase our faith…which I think He does, but I think the word for that kind of adversity is ‘tribulations’, not ‘tests’. As I hear from Him, it seems tests are sent to help us recognize what we’ve learned from His “faith as a way of life” course. If we keep going through the same dysfunctional (sinful) patterns every time we encounter a problem, then we’re not learning and growing…we’re perpetually failing the test…
As ‘good’ Christians, the temptation is to grasp at a verse or platitude when we get ‘hit’. We recite to ourselves “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and white knuckle our way through the situation, determined to be ‘nice’ and ‘Christ-like’. We clench our teeth and sit on our feelings–oftentimes resentment takes root in our heart. I think a better way through a test is to have previously internalized the Scripture verse/teaching, understood it, realized the consequences of it beforehand, asked God to make it real to us. Then when the test comes we will ‘know’ how to approach things and how to be/what to do…it may even come naturally (maybe not the first time, but that is okay, we’ll probably get more opportunities down the road…).
So, what happens when we pass a test? Seems to me that we get to advance spiritually. Our relationship with Jesus strengthens, we learn new material/gain new insights about ourselves and God and then we get more tests, only different ones. I guess it is a blessing that He allows tests, especially when we’re ready for them and can see how much we’ve learned. Now that is noteworthy life stuff!
Do we ever get to graduate in this life? Ever get to wear the cap and gown and flip the tassel? I’m not one to say for sure, but I kinda doubt it…maybe “Pomp and Circumstance” awaits us on the other side of death… After witnessing all the joy of Charlie’s high school graduation ceremony Wednesday, I sure hope so!!