I’m not a massive fan of taking tests! I don’t know many people who are, to be honest. I was always more of a coursework kind of person as the pressure to remember everything on one day, at one specific time felt a bit much. At school, I was envious of people who did very little revision, waltzed into the test and came out with an A. I have never been one of those people!
My least favourite subject at school was Maths. I despised it right from primary school through to my GCSEs. I can still remember the panicky feeling I had when Miss Lees, my Year 6 teacher, would press play on the cassette recorder and the mental maths test would start. A very well spoken woman would give me five seconds to answer her quick-fire questions, and at that point, every number in my head would disappear. My dislike of maths continued throughout school, and as I went into my final GCSE Maths exam I was so relieved that this was the last time I would ever have to do a maths test…and then results day arrived. There on my results slip was a big, fat letter D. To move forward in my education I would have to take the test again!
I recently heard a sermon where the preacher was talking about times of testing in our faith. The basic point was that we might as well knuckle down and pass the test we are taking because if we don’t then God will just send another opportunity for us to take it again. This idea has stuck with me ever since. I know that when it comes to my faith, I do have to keep resitting the same test.
Over the past few years, I seem to have been working through a Bachelor of Faith (BFa) Trust & Surrender Foundation Degree and I’m not convinced I’m currently in line for a very good grade.
The curriculum is pretty extensive but the main modules I’m working on include:
- Patience: an Exploration in Waiting on God
- Learning the Secret of Contentment
- Repeatedly Surrendering the Issue to God Instead of Struggling and Trying to Fix it Yourself.
Although I have made significant progress in many of the areas of the curriculum, this final one still appears to be causing me a certain amount of grief. I’ve done all the usual things like chatting with other students about how their studies are going and have taken their advice on board. I’ve even made regular appointments with the head of Spiritual Studies to pray through the issue, but ultimately no one else can pass this test for me. The reason this module is so difficult for me to pass is that it doesn’t involve doing, it involves being.
A couple of weeks ago my son messaged me with a verse that spoke deep into the heart of why I keep failing this test and why God, through his grace and love for me, keeps entering me for the resit exam.
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.”
When the text arrived, I grabbed my Bible and searched for the story surrounding the verse. The Israelites had left the captivity of Egypt and God was guiding them through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God instructed Moses that the people needed to turn back and camp between Migdol and the sea. The Bible is clear that the Israelites did as they were told but it must have felt counterintuitive. There must have been some questions in their mind about whether this was the right path to take and how it was all going to pan out.
When the King of Egypt caught wind of the fact that the Israelites had escaped, he was not impressed and released the full force of his army to hunt them down. They were surrounded by horses and chariots fuelled by the vengeance of an angry King. Feeling desperate and outnumbered the Israelites started to panic and questioned why they had ever left the “safety” of Egypt in the first place. That’s right! At this point, slavery in Egypt felt like a better option to them.
After listening to their complaints Moses tells them to be still, to stop analysing, trying to understand, lashing out, panicking, problem-solving and all the other things they were doing to feel safe and secure.
In the moments where God is transitioning us to something new, we can often look back to what was before and desperately cling to what feels safe and what is known.
“You cannot see the unknown until you release the known.”
Even when we have recognised the need to “release the known” and have started to move in the direction God is guiding us to, the fear of the unknown can be crippling. We start to fight to gain control of the situation, making rash decisions in the hope that we can take a shortcut and skip the period of uncertainty that we find ourselves in. This isn’t the way to pass the “Repeatedly Surrender the Issue to God Instead of Struggling, Fighting and Trying to Fix It Yourself” module of my Bachelor in Faith degree and it certainly won’t prepare me for the postgraduate study in surrender that I know God will have prepared for me next semester.
I don’t know what area of your Bachelor of Faith Foundation Degree is causing you the most grief at the moment. It could be any one of the following modules:
- Dealing with Difficult People
- How to Remain Calm and Not Use the Table-Turning Argument to Justify Your Anger
- God Pleaser or People Pleaser?
- Rejecting the Spirit of Fear
- Holding Things Loosely
- Worrier or Warrior?
I know we are all distracted by tinsel and presents and the busyness of Christmas at the moment, but somewhere in the madness, I would challenge you to take some time out and think through these questions.
In what area of faith does God keep entering you for the resit exam?
What needs to happen for you to move forward in this area of your faith?
As for me, I’ll still be working through the “Repeatedly Surrender the Issue to God Instead of Struggling, Fighting and Trying to Fix it Yourself” module while trusting that I need only be still and the Lord will fight for me.