One thing that really made an impression on me at the school I used to teach at was the way they treated the ISAT, our state’s standardized tests. In that school, the ISATs were a cause for huge celebration instead of dread (well, maybe the teachers dreaded it secretly, but at least pretended to celebrate it with the students). All the students were told that the ISAT was a chance for them to show off what they know. I still remember my fifth graders coming to me after the testing with huge grins on their faces, so proud to demonstrate all the things they have been learning.
I must say that Washington School is the only place I have ever seen such excitement over the word “test.” Almost every other time I hear the word mentioned, it is with fear and dread. When this dreaded word is mentioned in the spiritual realm, it often implies pain and difficulty. We think of Paul talking about the testing of our faith as a furnace tests gold and cringe at the excruciating heat. However, I believe that some of that perspective may be stemming from a view of God as merciless tyrant who beats us into pulp to make us into what he wants. However, today God showed me a different perspective on the spiritual tests that he brings in our lives.
During worship today at church, I felt that God wanted me to worship him for who he was, not what he gives me. Sound familiar? Yep, I’ve even blogged about that before. As I was thinking about the past couple of weeks and the couple of weeks ahead of me before school starts, I realized that God is having me revisit the lessons I have learned over the past several months. I then heard God say, “This is the review session. The test is coming and it will be an opportunity for you to demonstrate all that you have learned, to show off what you know.
Many times in our spiritual walk we are given “pop quizzes.” We don’t know the test is coming, we are thrown in and given a chance to apply what we have learned. However, sometimes we do know that a challenging time lies ahead, but instead of dreading it, we can celebrate the opportunity to show ourselves and the world what we have learned in the Holy Spirit’s classroom. After the test, we will then be able to return to our Teacher with huge grins, hungry for more instruction. So to those who are facing what seems to be a test of your faith, God wants you to use this opportunity to not only mark areas that need improvement, but also to celebrate the growth he has brought you through. For those who are anticipating a time of testing in the near future, take time to review all that you have been taught. None of what you have learned will go to waste, but rather, once tested, will come forth as gold.