Only a Test 

During my years of teaching, I gave numerous tests. Some of these tests checked basic understanding: listing verb tenses for a particular Latin word, matching definitions to literary terms and labeling cellular structures on a diagram. But most of the tests pushed the students deeper. During any given unit, I would hammer the application of the knowledge in an effort to show the pupils how to use the information. Knowing the facts is necessary, but applying those ideas is the source of great power. “We teach you to think better,” I would say. A noble idea, but one met often with yawns and rolled eyes.

Until test time…

Papers were distributed, silence fell over the room save the scratching of pens, then hands would rise and, with them, protests. “This was not in the material,” one would say. Other students would agree loudly.

“Which question?” I would ask.

“This one. It says, ‘Using the concepts you learned in this unit, determine which of the following factors would best fit into the overall narrative of the decline of the Roman Empire and explain your reasoning.’ None of the factors you have listed were included in the notes.”

“True, but there is a related factor listed there, and if you understand the overall concept, it should jump out at you. I am not interested in teaching you to regurgitate information; I want you to learn to apply truth.”

This is why some grumbled about my classes, and this is why I grumble about God at times.

God is all about the application of truth during tests. He never gives a principle without an opportunity to practice it.

You go before God, seek Him, praying without ceasing, and He answers. A promise comes. He gives a good word, and you cling to it. You hold in your heart the seed of hope. Your soul is comforted. Finally, you have heard from God. You know your next step. God seems so close to you.

But then, the test comes. Everything begins to change. The waiting begins. You thought that the fulfillment would be sooner, but time continues to plod along, and nothing seems to change. The seed of hope is buried, but by now there should be a sprout…right? You see nothing but empty ground, and for a long while, the only thing a seed sees is the dark. The light of revelation always meets the darkness of circumstance.

The testing has begun.
It is right about this time that I begin to protest.

“This was not expected. God, why did you give this closeness, this intimacy, this great truth only to allow the emptiness, the distance and the pressure to come?”

The testing comes precisely because the truth is given. The trial of distance follows intimacy. The forge used to prove your faith can heat up quickly.

On the heels of Jesus’ baptism, and hearing God declare His unreserved favor upon His Son, there is an immediate test: the Holy Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness and Satan seizes the opportunity (Mark 1:10-12). In my life, it seems that the closer I grow to Christ, the sooner the trials arise after hearing His truth and deciding to obey.

As soon as you decide to follow Him, an option for a seemingly easier route will be offered.

When you make the choice to seek purity, the temptation for impurity will appear, and it will be fashioned specifically for you.

Immediately upon hearing the truth, the attempt to undermine it has already been planned.

Satan will always offer you a shortcut.

Always.

The test you face will serve as a crucible to burn away anything that is not true. Your dependence upon the sufficiency of God or your lack thereof will be seen clearly. The impression you thought was from God (but was not) will turn to ash so He might redirect you to His best for you. The test will come; you can count on that. It will reveal the validity of what you regard as truth.

One step of faith will land you in the center of impossibility.

But impossible means nothing to Him.
James 1:2-4

2 Timothy 1:12

Job 23:10

1 Peter 1:7

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