Test?!? What test? I didn’t know we had a test — did you know we had a test?
In just a few weeks, thousands of children across the country will utter those words — in absolute sincerity and abject terror — just as their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents did before them. You’ve said them… I’ve said them. We were all so relieved when we finally put our school days behind us and bade farewell forever to those sneaky pop quizzes and terrible tests that seemed to come out of nowhere. Only to discover:
“Life consists of learning lessons and passing tests.” — Francis Frangipane
The Christian life, especially. Jesus Himself began His earthly ministry by being baptized in an awe-inspiring moment of power and glory and then was led away by the Spirit to be tested in the wilderness.
“Our walk with God progresses from learning lessons to having what we just learned tested.” — Francis Frangipane
When I read those words during my devotional time yesterday, it hit me right between the eyes. I realized I’ve been wandering around in a fog lately, taking hits from the enemy of my soul left and right. Feeling confused and unnerved. Off balance. Like I didn’t know there was a test coming. (Test? What test?) Somehow I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared.
All those things that God’s been speaking to my heart lately — guess what? He expects me to put them into practice! All the things I’ve been learning, the things I’ve been praying, the things I’ve been studying …
What good is it, if I don’t apply it? If I don’t use it? If it stays in my head or in my heart instead of flowing out through my life, producing fruit?
This week I’m letting all the “Back to School” commercials and school supply shopping displays remind me that I myself am still in school… I still have lessons to learn, tests to take and PASS. I need to pay more attention. I need to keep my eyes on my Teacher. With His help and by His grace, I know I can do a lot better.
All of this reminded me of a poem called “In School” that appears in the classic children’s novel What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. (It’s an old-fashioned story, originally published in 1872 — and you can download it here for FREE on your tablet or e-reader.)
I first read the book and this poem when I was seven or eight years old. I have no idea why it touched my little heart so deeply then. But I know why it speaks to me now:
I used to go to a bright school
Where Youth and Frolic taught in turn;
But idle scholar that I was,
I liked to play, I would not learn;
So the Great Teacher did ordain
That I should try the School of Pain.
One of the infant class I am
With little, easy lessons, set
In a great book; the higher class
Have harder ones than I, and yet
I find mine hard, and can’t restrain
My tears while studying thus with Pain.
There are two teachers in the school,
One has a gentle voice and low,
And smiles upon her scholars, as
She softly passes to and fro.
Her name is Love; ’tis very plain
She shuns the sharper teacher, Pain.
Or so I sometimes think; and then,
At other times, they meet and kiss,
And look so strangely like, that I
Am puzzled to tell how it is,
Or whence the change which makes it vain
To guess if it be – Love or Pain.
They tell me if I study well,
And learn my lessons, I shall be
Moved upward to that higher class
Where dear Love teaches constantly;
And I work hard, in hopes to gain
Reward, and get away from Pain.
Yet Pain is sometimes kind, and helps
Me on when I am very dull;
I thank him often in my heart;
But Love is far more beautiful;
Under her tender, gentle reign
I must learn faster than of Pain.
So I will do my very best,
Nor chide the clock, nor call it slow;
That when the Teacher calls me up
To see if I am fit to go,
I may to Love’s high class attain,
And bid a sweet good-by to Pain.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
And it will be worth every tear we have cried.
Don’t forget: Friday was the last day of our Virtual VBS For GrownUp Girls: Summer in the Son! If you participated in any way at any time — reading a few or all of the blog posts, doing the study — be sure to post a comment between now and tomorrow (Tuesday) at midnight to enter a drawing for a FREE book! Read the details here.
Today’s question: What “lesson” are you working on right now? Which one seems the hardest to learn?