By: Staci Stallings
A long time ago I believed that God sent “tests” to “test our faith.” As in, if you pass, you get in. If you don’t, hello darkness and gnashing of teeth!
Then God showed me graciously that I was a bit off on that concept. His greatest goal is for ALL of us to be with Him, and He’s not standing there with a stick ready to bop us on the head when we get it wrong. Nor is He looking for a reason to keep us away from Him. In fact, He knows we are going to mess up. He knows we are weak and that we are prone to make mistakes. So He gave us the Ten Commandments and said, “These are the guardrails. If you go through the guardrails, you will get hurt, and I don’t want that.”
Last time we talked about having “Now faith”–the kind that you don’t hope to have someday, but that you have right NOW!
Well, here’s an interesting concept to attach to that–God does “test” our faith, but it’s not a pass/fail to see if we get in or not kind of test like I used to think. That kind of test we are BOUND to fail.
In fact, I think it’s the concept of “failure” where we get hung up.
See, I always thought of failure as bad, negative, a huge black stain on my record. It was something to be avoided at all costs! And if it did happen, something to be covered up and buried lest anyone else ever see it.
But oh, my Father is so wise. He doesn’t see failure like that at all.
Take, for example, a bridge-builder. Now they actually have competitions like this for budding engineers. In fact, my niece is going to take “Material Engineering” in college this semester. I asked, “What is material engineering?” She didn’t know exactly as it hasn’t started yet, so we asked her cousin. “It’s learning what types of material to use in what you build.”
Okay. That makes sense even though I’ve never really thought about learning something like that.
So, what do you do in this class? You use different types of material and strengths of material to build a bridge with your group. It has to withstand a certain amount of weight. So it’s a lot like those match-stick competitions where you see how much weight your bridge will hold.
You with me? You know where this is headed?
Well, when you build these bridges for the class or the competition, you do a lot of testing prior to the competition. After all, you don’t want your prototype bridge to fail with the weight of a marshmallow, right? You want it to withstand a bucket of wet cement!
But how do you know if it will or not? Simple.
You test it!
This type of test is different than the type you had in school (though it should actually be similar; however, in too many classrooms the “test” doesn’t determine where you still need work; it determines if you pass or fail the course!). The idea of “testing” your bridge is that when you test it, you can see where the structure or material is weak and fix it or strengthen it.
Until the competition, you will run hundreds of tests–with different weights at different angles. Every test gives you information. Every piece of information tells you if your bridge is strong or weak and how to improve it.
When you first start, you get a lot of failures. You find a lot of things that don’t work. But then, as you learn, your bridge holds up more and more weight–it gets stronger and stronger. Though even now, it will break at times.
In the Book of Job, God allows Job’s faith to be tested. He allows Satan to do some pretty mean things to Job. Why? Because we don’t know how strong or weak our faith is until it’s tested!
This is not a bad or mean thing like I used to think. It is actually very loving. Just like a baby walking, we have to learn how to stand, how to take a step, how to balance–and yes, falling (failing) is a part of that process.
So when your faith is being “tested,” just know that God is giving you a chance to see your weak spots and with His help improve upon them so your faith is like a bridge that can span a waterway and stand–no matter what!