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This is a Test

Waiting On God is the excellent book which Wayne Stiles has written on the life of Joseph. In this book Stiles

addresses the issue of tests that we encounter often on a daily basis. His comments are made and given in classroom language.

Listen and see if you identify with any of this. He begins:

“When God chooses to test our faith, the test shows up unexpectedly―like a pop quiz. We never see it

coming. If we knew we faced a big test next week, we’d prepare ahead of time. We’d brace ourselves for the

unexpected and get spiritual–really fast. But that’s not a real test. A real test blindsides us. When God drops a quiz in

our laps, it’s like catching a live grenade. We have only an instant to choose our response. Sometimes an

embarrassing kneejerk reaction kicks in before we have time to think about it.” (And I would add to Mr. Stiles’

comments that the Lord sometimes swiftly collects the test papers for immediate grading!)

Continuing on with his narrative, Stiles reaches into his bag of personal happenings to further make his point.

He says, “Years ago, one of my daughters went with me to buy dog food. As we walked into the pet store, the

employee behind the counter saw us, and immediately his face lit up. “Are you Wayne Stiles?” he asked. Surprised,

Stiles said, “Yes, I am.”

Okay, Wayne says, “Let’s pause for a moment to set the scene. In that moment, the brain’s immediate

reaction was to figure out how this stranger knew my name. Maybe he read something I wrote, or perhaps he heard

me speak, or maybe he ... and the list went on. All this shot through my mind in an instant.” (And I will interrupt his

tale with this thought: It’s often in times like this that the enemy of your soul tries to drag yesterday’s, or last week’s,

or even last year’s garbage to the surface of your memory … and always with a flourish of horrible accusation

purposefully designed to pile on a load of undefined guilt. Everything seems smooth, and suddenly, up pops some

item that has no basis for the guilt we’re feeling … no wonder the Bible calls him the accuser of the brethren!)”

Back to Wayne Stiles in the pet store. “The guy behind the counter revealed how he knew my name. Your

wife just called. You’re supposed to call home.” Up pops another feeling of un-defined guilt. “Uh-oh. What now?”

“As it turned out,” continues Stiles, “he recognized me because Cathy told him I would have my five-year-

old daughter with me. It had nothing to do with anything I said, wrote, or did. You know what aggravated me most

about this event? I innocently walked into a store to buy dog food, and God handed me a pop quiz to see if I was as

covered under His blood as I thought I was. Nothing of reality hiding under the surface of my heart but the hidden

pride that did not want exposure just in case something was there.” Thank you, Wayne Stiles.

Oh, my! We need so desperately to live each moment of our day walking in faith that Christ’s blood has cleansed us from

all sin, and unrighteousness. That which is under the blood is witness to the victory we have in Jesus Christ.

Gloria and I have recently discovered how delightful a blueberry pie can be. I found one at the market the

other day on sale, and it looked perfect with a golden top crust and the berries peeking through the little cut-out

shapes in the crust. The cashier was not particularly mindful of us, rather she was having a conversation with the

folks next in line, as she hastily registered our items and brusquely shoved them onto the belt. As she did so, she

caused a heavy item to fall onto the top of our blueberry pie … crushing that beautiful crust … and hurting those

lovely little berries peeking out of those now bruised and broken little holes. It was devastating.

Now, I must admit that I was not prepared for God’s pop quiz! I, and I’m sure the folks next in line, heard

myself saying in a voice just as brusque as her handling of the blueberry pie, “Ma’am; Please! You must be more

careful! You have just crushed our blueberry pie!” While my words were appropriate for the moment, perhaps, to

give brusqueness of speech in exchange for brusqueness of deed was not. I’m afraid I did not receive a very high

mark on my pop quiz that morning.

The Lord also hands us other tests. Bigger ones. They find more than the superficial items that surprise us in unexpected

moments of pride. They unearth the things we ourselves have buried deep below the surface. These exacting exams go beyond our

blind spots to places we turn a blind eye to. Oh, we see them all right. We just pretend we don't.

But we know right where we buried them. So does God.

Francis Mason

Pastor Mason