Exam Day

I asked the Lord for some new material for my Verse by Verse contributions and I guess He took that as an invitation to begin teaching me some new things. I think He might have misunderstood…?

I’m still thinking about hearing the hard things, about being a cheetah, about what it means to open myself up to challenge, and change. And when you open yourself up to hard things…you get them. At this moment I am engrossed in a study of both Philippians and 1 Peter. Remarkable how similar they are, or maybe it’s just that God is busy teaching me this particular lesson. The Sunday sermon and my small group study time both centered on the topic of suffering through trial. Rather than the word trial, however, I want to use the word test. When you’ve been in a classroom digesting knowledge, how does the teacher know what you’ve absorbed? A test. It comes from the teacher, for the purpose of proving what you’ve learned, so that you can effectively use what you know. With that in mind, consider these words:

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word; just to rest upon His promise and to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord’. Jesus. Jesus. How I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus. Jesus. Precious Jesus. Oh for grace to trust Him more.

Really? How many times have you sung this beautiful hymn together with the saints and made it a heartfelt request? “Oh – for grace to trust Him more!!” Have you ever stopped to think about how you learn to trust Him? (Cue Jeopardy music here.) You learn to trust Him when you’re sure He’ll fail you, but you believe Him anyway. You learn to trust Him through circumstances that make you think His words are a lie, but you believe them anyway. You learn to trust Him when what you feel is in conflict with what you know. You learn to trust Him when you test His word.

The author of that hymn, Louise M. Stead, watched helplessly from the shore as her husband drowned trying to save a young boy floundering in the water near where they were picnicking. She and her young daughter were left destitute. How do you think she came to be able to pen those words, “how I trust Him…how I’ve proved Him”? She had her choice of things to believe, but she proved Christ to be sufficient; she and her daughter went on to be missionaries, carrying the gospel to a world with no hope, no God, and nothing to “prove”.

Now here’s the hard part for those of us in the American church – the part we don’t want to hear – most tests are tests of simple daily obedience. They aren’t the big glamorous romantic things we like to talk about being prepared for later. They aren’t things like mission trips, persecution, death, or catastrophic loss. Most are the every day episodes of life where Jesus takes your chin in hand, looks you in the eye, and asks you to prove your lip service through the experience of obedience. It ain’t glamorous and there are no kudos from a watching world, it’s just you, the Teacher, and the test – Him testing you, you testing the word.

My husband and I had a major throw-down on Sunday and suddenly it was exam day. This was Jesus saying to me, “Prove that you understand what I’ve been teaching you, Melissa. Apply your knowledge to your experience. Let’s see if this dog will hunt!” Hmmm…what to believe…? What to believe…? Believe that I will surely be acquitted of holding a pillow over his head if I can just make it until bedtime? Or believe that I am a minister of reconciliation, a steward of grace, that by doing good I silence the talk of foolish men (ahem!) and that through purity and reverence and submission I can win over my man (and so can God) “Thus saith the Lord”

Well, I’m sorry to tell you that I chose the pillow option and bit my tongue, biding my time, plotting revenge, nursing a grudge, and lying in wait through the long hours of the night. (I wasn’t really going to hold a pillow over his head…um… really!) Put a big red F at the top of that page!

But on the sweet wings of the dawn came the Holy Spirit’s voice reminding me from both books I’m studying that what I’ve learned from Christ is servant submission. He did not retaliate, he made no threats, (he committed no homicide) but instead he humbled himself and entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. So, praying feverishly just to believe that good could come from doing the same, and for the strength to obey and to trust God to prove that this works, I put my feet over the edge of the bed and onto the floor. Within minutes, my husband had apologized (as had I) and we were on the path to peace. Words tested. Words proven. Glory. Glory hallelujah.

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.
Just to take him at his word.
Just to rest upon his promise and to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord’.
Jesus. Jesus. How I trust him. How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er.
Jesus. Jesus. Precious Jesus.
Oh for grace to trust him more.”
Now these words are my words. Truly mine. I’ve proved them to be true, and I know I can trust them. I know I can trust Him. Oh! For grace to trust him more!