“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commands or not.” Deuteronomy 8:2
I mentioned briefly last week, the not so small coincidence that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s first recorded test of faith was food; followed by much larger tests of faith, a furnace and a lion’s den. I then laughed at the “coincidence” this Sunday in service when our pastor gave his own personal story of his faith and obedience being tested in the grocery store parking lot. Would he be faithful in the small thing and put the cart away?
It’s just a fact of the Christian life; our own faithfulness is always being tested. The scripture today mentions that the purpose of the testing is to humble us, to know what is in our hearts and to see if we will obey Him (even when it’s hard).
I’ve got news for you, it’s always hard. And many of the times, the opposition to your faith comes from the least likely of places. Sometimes it comes from the people you hold in the highest of regard. Sometimes it comes from the people you love and cherish the most. Sometimes it comes from things that seem good at the time, making them a sneaky test, because they’re “good”.
Sunday night we were turning the DVD player off and headed to bed. It was already past 10 and it had been a big week. But when we turned the DVD player off the Satellite was still on and a show popped up on the TV. It was a movie version of the story of Joseph, a good one. You know how a lot of times Bible story movies aren’t always the highest quality of movies, this one wasn’t like that. It was GREAT! The acting was good, the sets, the costume, even the script was great. So great, that I couldn’t pull my eyes away. There were parts of me that were screaming inside going, “you have to get up at 6 in the morning and if you stay up any later you’re just not going to be able to do that properly.” But did I listen to that voice of reason? Sadly, no.
I stayed up until ONE in the morning watching this movie that we were recording. (sadly shaking head) I could have gone to bed and watched it later. But I stayed up anyway. Against the schedule God had given me to follow, a schedule I had asked Him for in the first place. And guess who has had to practically throw that schedule out the window this week because I stayed up so late on Sunday? Yup, me.
Tests are designed to show the teacher AND the student what the student knows, what level they have achieved mastery, and whether or not they’re ready to move on to a higher level. Now honestly, it’s going to be pretty hard to convince me that God doesn’t already know if I’m ready to move on or not. If He really is the all-knowing God that He claims to be, which I believe that He is, then His tests aren’t aimed for Him to find out the condition of our hearts. But rather, the tests are for us to discover the condition of our hearts. Tests are humbling experiences. They are those times in life when we come to fully see our inability to remain faithful in the smallest things, like going to bed at a decent hour. Personally, it’s usually the bigger tests that are easier, because they’re more obvious. I can tell you that despite the prompting of the voice of reason, at the time I didn’t view that movie as a test. But the more I look at it now, the more I realize that it was. It was a test in more things than I’d like to admit to you right now. And I’m pretty sure I failed in all of them.
But, like I said, that’s what tests are for. They are humbling experiences that provide greater heart knowledge of our willingness to obey the specific commands that the Father gives us through His Holy Spirit.
How far are you willing to go to obey Him? Are you willing to risk judgment and condemnation from a family member? Are you willing to be looked upon with scorn or shame from someone that you care about deeply? How about standing in the middle of a fire, or a lion’s den; where the situation is potentially HOTTER than you’ve ever experienced and there will be biting remarks intended to wound deeply but fall short of killing? How much is your own obedience worth to you? I can tell you it’s worth an awful lot to Him. He gave Adam and Eve one commandment and look what happened when they didn’t obey. Or Moses, he missed out on entering into the Promised Land because he struck a rock with a stick instead of just speaking to it. That’s what I call a small detail to be obedient to, yet it wasn’t small in God’s eyes. Now I’m not saying there isn’t Grace in all things, because we have that now and they didn’t then. However, we still have to realize the importance of keeping up our end of the bargain.
My one late night, may cost me dearly. I’m not sure how dearly, but most likely more than I want to pay. And it’s probably only payable in more time as I have to go through the class again and re-take that test until I pass it. Jesus help us!