“Take out a piece of paper, close your books. This is a test.”
Those words elevate blood pressure and inspire fervent prayer. As the bumper sticker says, “As long as there are tests, there will be pray in school.” There is nothing like the word “Test” to make your brain go into lockdown. Have you ever looked at a question, and known you know the answer, but it hovers just outside the range of consciousness? Thinking about it harder doesn’t help; I know, I had the grades to prove it.
Why do teachers give tests? I used to think it was so they could make us prove we were paying attention. Now I realize they had to give us a grade and a test was the most empirical way to determine if we were really awake in class. I don’t know that a test proved I learned anything. For most of my academic career, I would cram knowledge in the night before the test and then pour it out on paper the next day. When I handed in my paper, my brain flushed all the facts, formulas, and figures into whatever corner of the brain holds stuff you don’t remember anymore.
We can think this is what the Bible means when it speaks of God testing us. We picture trying to prove to God we know enough to pass. The word translated “test” means to prove or to measure. The picture changes from sitting in a classroom to an engineering lab testing the strength of concrete. I see in my mind cattle being standing on a scale, so their weight is not a guess, but is proven. That’s a test.
We say we believe, we say we will follow, but our words alone do not prove our love for God. Our religious acts do not prove the weight God has in our lives. The reality of our faith is shown in the moment of testing. Faith is only real when we act. Following Jesus, even when the picture is not clear, is passing the test.
By this measure, I have failed God’s tests many times. So have you. The temptation for me, and maybe for you, is to say it is impossible to pass the test. Yet the Bible gives us stories of regular people who passed the test. They were not super heroes. They were people who decided to trust and follow, people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, and John.
You have been and you will be tested. If you have failed the test last time, the good news is our God loves you and will give you another opportunity. If you have a test coming up, pray to obey when you can’t see the way. Ultimately, your tests and mine are opportunities to trust our Heavenly Father.
I don’t know when, but I know God will test you. I’m praying not that you will pass, but that you will trust.