Monthly Archives: August 2016

Again?! I Thought I Passed This Test!

God repeats the tests

When my husband began private pilot flight training, I took ground school with him and another friend.  We three took the written test at the same time, but we had to wait several days to know if we had made the passing 70 grade. My results came on a Friday – I passed with an 80. Our friend failed the test, and my husband had to wait until Monday for his test results. He passed with an 82 but spent a miserable weekend waiting for the results. Our friend retook the test two more times before passing. (You’ll be glad to know his interest in flying waned quickly.)

Taking and retaking tests is common in many fields. The bar exam for lawyers may be taken limited times in some jurisdictions, but unlimited times in others. Over the last few years, the pass rate for first time takers of the ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine) has fallen from 90% to 84%. Makes you wonder how many times your doctor took the test before passing.

Often, God seems to retest us on subjects we felt we had mastered. Maybe we didn’t get a high grade, but to our way of thinking we had passed the test. Then, months or years later, God slaps down the same test again! The test may be a recurring temptation, another waiting time, a test of perseverance, or return of an illness. My retests have often come on the subject of worry —worry about finances, health, family, and ageing. Rather than mark all the answers “I will trust in God,” I find myself checking off, “I will worry about this.” 

Many years ago I found an Old Signpost written by Frances Ridley Havergal (author of classic song Take My Life). This Signpost has helped me during retests. Take a couple moments to stop, and read a Signpost left on the High Trails in the 1800s. It’s good for 21st century pilgrims.


‘I thought I knew it!’ she said,
‘I thought I had learnt it quite!’
But the gentle Teacher shook her head,
With a grave yet loving light
In the eyes that fell on the upturned face,
As she gave the book
With the mark still set in the self-same place.

‘I thought I knew it!’ she said;
And a heavy tear fell down,
As she turned away with bending head.

Then the gentle voice was heard,
‘Now I will try you again!’
And the lesson was mastered, – every word!
Was it not worth the pain?

Was it not kinder the task to turn,
Than to let it pass,
As a lost, lost lesson that she did not learn?

Is it not often so,
That we only learn in part,
And the Master’s testing-time may show
That it was not quite ‘by heart’?
Then He gives, in His wise and patient grace,
That lesson again
With the mark still set in the self-same place.

Only, stay by His side
Till the page is really known,
It may be we failed because we tried,
To learn it all alone.
And now that He would not let us lose
One lesson of love
(For He knows the loss) – can we refuse?

But oh! How could we dream
That we knew it all so well?
Reading so fluently, as we deem,
What we could not even spell!
And Oh! How could we grieve once more
That patient One
Who has turned so many a task before?

That waiting One, who now
Is letting us try again;
Watching us with the patient brow
That bore the wreath of pain;
Thoroughly teaching what He would teach.
Line upon line,
Thoroughly doing His work in each.

Then let our hearts ‘be still,’
Though our task is turned to-day
Oh let Him teach us what He will,
In His own gracious way,
Till, sitting only at Jesus’ feet,
As we learn each line,
The hardest is found all clear and sweet
                          Frances Ridley Havergal

Martha Hawn VanCise©2016
Photo: Shutterstock

This is a Test. This is Only a Test.

It isn't the Big One

Any time the screeching sirens for the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant sounded, I always stopped and waited until I heard the familiar computer trills and the blaring recording of, “This is a test. This is only a test.” Though only seconds passed between the first signal and the reassurance that this was not the “Big One,” a thought always raced through my mind. “Where is my designated evacuation route?”

When a trial or test disrupts our life we often react as if a blaring emergency signal is announcing – This is the Big One!  I certainly don’t want to downplay the suffering of  going through a  Big One, and I’m not about to minimize the suffering of tragedies, disasters, and chronic pain, but not all trials fall into the Big One category.

We all have aches and pains and complaints about life. We face disappointments, loneliness, financial stress, discouragement, rejection and health issues and many of us have survived at least one Big One. For the most part, though, our trials aren’t life altering, and they are common to all Christians.

Recently, when I was making plans for a self-pity party – complete with a pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream – I took a moment to evaluate the reason for my mood. I knew exactly what was troubling me and I needed more than a cheery internet meme or a scripture verse to make me feel better. God, however, has a way of using our own words to speak to us. Out of my recent weeks of studying and writing about “God’s Teaching and Testing Methods” came the blaring  message—

This is a Test! This is only a Test!

When I began to view my disappointment as “a test,” I stopped feeling sorry for myself.  God had walked me through many tests and would be with me in this situation. I think that when a trial jolts us out of our complacency, we need to stop in our tracks and take a moment to be honest with ourselves.  Is this just a test? Am I failing to trust God in this test?

Just as “Florida Power and Light uses the siren system to improve public awareness of its function and ensure its operability,” I think some of these trials slip through the Lord’s filtering hands in order to quality-check our trust and to remind us of the designated route to spiritual growth and safety.

 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. I Corinthians 10:13
(The Message)

Martha Hawn VanCise©2016

This is a Test. This is Only a Test is the 3rd Signpost in the series “God’s Teaching and Testing Methods.”