Developing Godly Character Pt 4 – Embracing the test, accepting the results

Remember school?  Yeah, unfortunately so do I!

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Tests came in two kinds, announced and unannounced.  The announced were dreaded, yet because we could see them coming in advance we could either choose to prepare for it or ignore it.  The unannounced, well, hopefully we were prepared and if not we would find out.

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Life in Messiah is much the same.  He is our Teacher, our Rabbi, our High Priest, and it is our job to listen to Him, to learn from Him by following Him, reading His Word and obeying it.  It is our job to cooperate with Him, to walk with Him in His ways.  His tests rarely come down to having Bible verses memorized, unfortunately, because then it would all be fairly academic and straightforward when the tests came. His tests are of a more eternal quality, boiling down to character issues, and specifically about revealing where it is lacking in maturity and producing bad fruit. Those are the tests for which we cannot study at the last minute — if we aren’t living in such a way as to pass it, in complete surrender to becoming conformed to His character, then we are not going to even have a chance of passing His pop quizzes.

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Some pop quizzes are there to shock us and show us how far we’ve come.

“Wow, I remember how I used to react in that sort of situation!”

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Some pop quizzes are there to alert us that our problem areas are being neglected.

“Won’t I ever change?  UGH!”

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Some pop quizzes are a mixture.

“Okay, I did better that time, it took me a lot longer than usual before I screwed up.”

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Some pop quizzes are there so we can find out how we will react to entirely new situations.

“What?  What just happened?  I don’t even know what hit me!  What the heck was I even supposed to do?”

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But all pop quizzes have one thing in common — they are all preparing us for the big tests later, and they will prepare us, if we recognize them for that they are and if we embrace the testing process.    Making excuses for the results is a common mistake.  If we blow the test, we need to face it and repent and learn in a manner which sends us forward.  Sulking and denial will not help, blaming the test will not help, blaming the people used in the test is fultile — we will simply keep failing the test until we die or change, and at the expense of those around us and whatever fruit God prepared us to produce ahead of time.  When we refuse to accept the results, the whole Kingdom suffers loss and so does the world around us.  Note that I didn’t say that the Kingdom and the world suffers when we fail the occasional test, but instead when we refuse to accept the results.  Why is that?

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The other night, after coming through a very intense three day test where I did exceptionally well, until the very end — God shared something amazing with me.

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“You are going to get it wrong before you can get it right,”

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And in that simple statement I saw that my failure at the end was not a disaster or a condemnation so much as it was a “heads up.”  The test showed me how far He had brought me, and that I had cause for thanksgiving and rejoicing.  I had a reason to see that promises made a long time ago had been faithfully kept.  And in His mercy, His test was designed to show me what I still tend to do when I am under stress — even though I didn’t do any of the other things I used to do.  I had been given valuable information, information I could kick myself over, or information I could be thrilled to possess,

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I call it “enemy intelligence” — what I learned about myself.  “Enemy Intelligence” is spy-jargon for classified information about your enemy.  My way of doing things, in the flesh, is my enemy, and my enemy likes to hide from me.  I will share what happened with you briefly so that I can put real concepts behind what I am saying.

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Saturday night, before the end of the Sabbath, I thought it was my idea to start a 3 day fast in order to pray for some ladies who were going through some tough circumstances.  Sunday morning, I got up and spread out my new topsoil and put down grass seed.  Within an hour it was pouring down torrential rain for the first time in a month and it started to wash away in areas.  In the past would get angry and resentful and start complaining, but because of the changes I started to submit to back in June when He gave me notice, not only was I not complaining, but He was also able to eliminate anger and resentment as well (at least compared to how I was before).  So I watched as a deep gully was cut through my new topsoil and I just started laughing.  I mean, why get angry, why complain, what on earth would it do anyway?  Might as well just thank Him that the rest of the yard was being watered.  So I did and since I could not do any more work outside, I got to enjoy my day.  That was, until people started acting weird.  And over the course of the next three days, I had these weird situations pop up that were entirely out of my control, but I did not handle them the way I used to handle them.

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Then of course there were my 13 year old twin boys, who decided on one of the mornings to just push each others buttons and I did erupt suddenly, although I was able to shut it down quickly, but not before taking some Excedrin on a stomach that had been empty for 2 1/2 days, poisoning me.  Add to that the death of a young friend, and on the last day I did something that showed me exactly what YHVH had wanted me to see in the first place.  In the final hours of my test, I went backwards to the initial behavior He had warned me about in early June, I started complaining and it was a few hours before I realized it and stopped.  Now, I only griped to a few friends, but what the entire test was about was revealing how I react under stress, and how much stress I can take before I buckle beneath the pressure — especially when my normal avenues of blowing off steam have been removed from me.

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The test was there to reveal my flesh, to show me how far I have come and to show me what I still need to work on.  And I had a choice to be irritated at that “enemy intelligence” revealed during those three surprise days of testing, or to use it to gain a victory later.  I choose victory, because if I don’t, then the test was just there to torture me.  End result:  I know that many of my bad behaviors are rooted in not having healthy habits for dealing with stress.  I had been blaming them on this or that character flaw, but they were all really rooted in stress.  I wouldn’t have known that without the test.  Now instead of having five problems to attack, I only have one.  Vaulable intelligence indeed!

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Now back in June, when I was given my warning in the midst of a dream, I really had been given fore-warning that a test was coming.  In fact, every time He points out a behavior, know that a test is coming.  And oftentimes, we don’t know how to address the problems He brings to our attention — but He does, so we have to ask Him to start making those changes and we have to promise to cooperate as much as possible.  And a really good start is whenever we fall into those problem areas, we need to stop and submit ourselves by saying, “Okay God, what are You trying to teach me here, what do You want me to learn from this?”

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Testing is only punitive if we refuse to learn from it.  Unfortunately, modern education has done us a disservice in the area of testing.  If we fail, we either have to repeat everything or we move on ahead anyway.  But with God’s tests, we only repeat what we got wrong until we get it right and He is not content to just move us forward anyway.  The steps are important, or He would not keep testing us.  We must be determined not to allow failures to crush us, but to allow them to serve as guideposts towards progress.

failure

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We have to get it wrong before we can get it right, otherwise we will become prideful and what need would we have of God at all?  Of course we are not born with His character!  Nor do we have it when we call on Yeshua (Jesus) to be our Master.  Nor does a diploma from Divinity School impart it.  You know, He has to show us, step by step, that we don’t have His character and we should not be offended by that.  When He does show us, we should not despair but instead be excited, because it means that He is calling us closer to Him, closer to being conformed to His character.

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Failing a test is a challenge, showing us that we are not perfectly walking that narrow path.  Imagine each failure as a necessary step towards the right direction.

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“No, a step to your right, that’s it, much closer.  Try not to step over there again, keep your eye out.  Now try that, doesn’t that make it easier to follow Me?”

 

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1 Comment


  1. I can so relate to this post, especially this week! I love that He takes the time to let us fail, lets us figure things out, but also gently corrects at just the right time. The result for me after a “pop quiz” this week was much like you; I totally chortled! Hashem is such a wonderful Abba.

    Blessings and Shalom, S

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