I can’t really remember my first exam at school but I can remember subsequently that taking them did not become my favourite occupation! However I do remember the relief when one was over and even better the exhilaration of finding I had passed. I recall my first driving test that ended in failure and can still recall why. The instructor had to breath in a bit too deeply as I squeezed the car through traffic allowing too little space on either side for his comfort. “This driver could be a problem to others at the moment so he needs some more instruction,” may well have been his thinking at the time!
Tests are part of life as we all know and no doubt you will concur that they come in all forms as we travel on our journey with the Lord. The words test and tempt are closely linked in the Bible but we are assured that God never tempts anyone (James 1:13) but He certainly does test. It is stated quite plainly in the account of Genesis 22 that “some time later God tested Abraham.” Abraham came through a remarkable test with regard to Isaac and the words the Lord spoke to him as he released his son have echoed down through the centuries. “Now I know that you fear God.” In fact the Spirit of God confirms that “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19) That man had received a promise but did he really believe it? By faith he certainly did.
Consigned to the Lord’s discipline the children of Israel had to take a rather circuitous route known as the 40 years of wandering in the desert. Reading through what is a fairly sparse but stark account of what happened, leaves us wondering at times just how slow to learn is the human heart. The wonderful thing is that the Lord did not abandon them but actually “led them all the way in the desert those 40 years.” (Deuteronomy 8:1-5). In fact He did so to test them and to know what was in their hearts and that would mean, as we read, they had also to be humbled. Such measures on God’s part are not designed lightly but to deal with the self-pity or arrogance that can be so debilitating and actually destructive in our lives. Once again more familiar words echo down through the centuries from that text for the Lord’s intent was “to teach that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Even the bread came from His word so really it was His word that ensured them life. More and more I am discovering that I have a heart that needs His Word while more and more I know the Lord wants me to want it. Perhaps like me you do but the learning process is slow.
Jesus led several of the disciples into a Garden where He would face the ultimate test. In agony he faced it while the disciples slept. “Couldn’t you men watch with me for one hour?” asked Jesus (Matthew 26:40). They slept again and He let them. Far from abandoning them as hopeless cases Jesus leads them on. Oswald Chambers, in my summary of his thoughts, says that we may well fail but the Lord wants us to forsake its despair and go on to the next opportunity. He finishes his devotional this way. “Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step. “(Feb 18th).
By the way I have been driving for a long time now. Not perfectly as points on my licence and prangs have shown but I am slowly realising that God is as good as His word and every promise He gives is “yes” in Christ. Tests are good for me but I still don’t enjoy taking them!