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  • Katie Smith

Test me

Assessments. Exams. Those scary things we calls tests: a measure of accuracy or authenticity determined by trial and error, question and answer flow. I often find myself telling my boys, "Don't test me" when they look to be questioning my authority, but I think I should say, "Yes, please test me. If you really want to see if you can trust my authenticity, then go ahead... test me please." Then, I'll pray I have the time, temperament, and tenacity to follow through with my words so that they continue to trust and obey them in the future when there is no time for tests and corresponding answers, but only exams with final outcomes.

The majority of students and educators alike would love to eradicate exams: no grading papers and no time studying. But without a trial, how would we silence the spiral of doubt or suspicion? How could we know if someone is 100 percent accurate in their information? We naturally question authenticity as Adam and Eve did with God's authority in the Garden. In the end, testing is done for our benefit. Adam and Eve wanted to test God's genuine love, but in His providence and perfect love He was actually testing their love through faith.

Even faith, by definition is trusting in something you cannot prove, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tested. "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test" (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).

Many non-believers assume that people who follow faith are blind, deaf, and dumb, letting others lead them into a gullible farce of white-washed tombs. There are certainly "those" kinds of people out there, but TRUE faith followers have stood the tests of trial, time, and trauma.

Jesus followed through with his "test" on the cross if you look at in through that lense. He could have told his prosecutors what they wanted to hear, or he could have called down fire and brimstone on those with the nails, but he knew why he came. His word was trustworthy. He told His loved ones what would happen before it happened, and he saw it through to the end.

Bible believers are instructed never to test God (Deut 6:16, 1Co 10:9) in order not to assume we know more than God and desire His headship. But we are called to test all other spirits (Ro 12:2, 1 Jn 4:1) in order to know for certain who is actually following the true creator through faithful obedience, and who is merely verbalizing that trust for an audience.

When we lack the wisdom to embrace exams, then our assessments will come through God's providential hand. "Don't be surprised by the fiery trial that has come upon you to test you" (1 Peter 4:12) because when you have stood the "test" like Abraham or Elijah, you'll receive that "crown of eternal life" (James 1:12).

Not all tests come through hell or high water though. Some of the most significant and subtle assessments come through flattery and praise. "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise" (Proverbs 27:21).

Praise, like fire, can burn our flame of pride, bringing us farther away from our Father. We live in a world that wants us to trust only what we feel is good and right; this is dangerous territory. Our feelings, hearts, and emotions cannot be trusted. They change as quickly as the calendar. Instead, we need something unchanging, something eternal to withstand every test, compliment. or feeling. When we know best, we don't need to take a test. When what we feel is right, an exam might make us question our emotions.

In the end, we can only ask God, who made us and loves us, to "search us, and TEST us to see if there is any offense in us" so that we stay on the road of truth and authenticity. Only then can we approve genuineness around us and call out the wolves wearing sheep's clothing. We can pass our test, and know what is really true and false. Everyone misses a few questions along the way, but that is why Jesus was the perfect assessment for us to study and follow.

"Smith school" has been sweet this year (all things considered), but when I am weary of exams, I remember that we can call the whole day off just test ourselves with outside play! Welcome spring! Welcome to a new season with new kinds of tests... to be continued...

~ Always Carefully Careless

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