Tests are a part of life. We all know this. We have grown up with them. Tests are beneficial no matter how hard they are. The purpose of tests in school is multiple.
I have learned something about tests over the years. Probably the main thing is that if I am studying strictly to pass a test, once I have regurgitated the information I lose most of it in the process. The downside? If I flunk the test and try to retake it, most of the knowledge is gone. So, I tell myself when I am learning something that I never want to forget it. Makes a big difference.
There are some tests for which I can’t study. These are the tests of life. Let me rephrase – I can study for them but I cannot cram. We do that in school and it works to a degree but it doesn’t really work in life. For example, a farmer can’t play all summer and then cram the seed in the ground right before harvest time. Just doesn’t work. I really don’t want my cardiologist cramming for an angioplasty the night before he’s scheduled to do it on me. No thanks!
School is interesting. We study the material; learn the lesson and then we are tested on it. Life has its own school – the school of hard knocks. In this school you are tested first and then you learn the lesson. The latter seems to be the most affective.
Then there is God’s testing method. Does He need to find out whether His method is too tough or too easy? Don’t think so. Does He need to test us to see how much we have learned? Nope. He knows exactly what we know or don’t know. So then, what is the purpose of His testing? I think I have figured it out. At least for myself, the testing is for me to understand if I’m applying what I know.
A few months ago, before my heart attack, I was driving a mail truck for a contractor. It was a diesel truck. I pulled into the service station where we always fill up but the spot I usually occupied was taken so I turned around and took another pump facing the opposite direction. I jumped out, put the nozzle in the tank, and filled it up. When the pumped shut off, I reached for the nozzle and as I was putting it back in the slot my eyes settled on a word that shocked my senses – UNLEADED. Yep. You got it. I filled the diesel fuel tank of the truck with unleaded gas.
I hated to call my boss but I had no choice. I explained to him what happened and he said, at first, “Oh my God!” and then he told me not to worry, that it was not the first time it has happened and that he would get there to help me as soon as possible. He arrived about twenty minutes later with gas cans and a siphoning hose. He said, “Since you’re the one who pumped it, you get to siphon it”. Together, we got the gas siphoned out, the diesel in and I was on the road again, although running late. The truck ran like a top.
As I thought over the situation and all that transpired, I compared it to other situations in my life. I told the Lord I greatly appreciated the fact that:
“My boss is a Christian. Therefore there was no anger, no cussing, no intimidation, finger pointing, yelling, criticism, or shaming.
“We worked together like one person to get the problem solved in the most efficient manner possible with the goal of getting me back on the road so the mail could be picked up in a timely manner.
The fly in the ointment was my asking my boss not to share the situation with guys at the rehab center where we both taught. I really don’t remember if he agreed or not but God didn’t. He told me it was important to share the incident and all the aspects with the men as a testimony re victory over my anger, cursing and other things that would have been present before I became a Christian. I shared it in detail the next day. I felt good about this test and I learned a lot about my boss and myself. It brought us closer together as friends as well as the business relationship. God already knew all of this but I had no idea how I would respond in a tough situation without experiencing it.
I experienced a testing that I completely flunked. I was on the phone with a tech support person who was helping me through an Internet connection problem. He told me we needed to reset the password and asked me to give him one to use. The words Jesus is Lord came to my mind but I could not get the words out of my mouth. I froze up. I gave him another password and we hung up.
I felt lower than a snake and I guarantee you “the snake” got on my case in rapid time to let me know what a lousy Christian I am. I asked God to forgive me for being a coward. He did but it took me a day to get over my failure. Again, God knew what the outcome would be but I was shocked by it. After all, I have been a Christian since 1970. I’ve preached, taught, and led people to the Lord, written Christian materials, songs, articles, and ad nausea. I sure identified with Paul in Romans 7 – “The things I want to do, I don’t do and the things I don’t want to do, I do” (loose translation). I ended up thanking God for the test so I could see my own weakness lest I feel I am more than I am.
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