Friday, May 29, 2009

The Test

I'm not a test-taker. I'm just gonna say that right now. Give me a piece of paper with little bubbles on it, and my mind will go blank faster than a shaken etch-a-sketch.

Case-in-point: I scored pretty well on my pre-SAT tests. But the moment they put the "real thing" in front of me... well, you fill in the blanks:

B.J. ---- when she saw the SAT test, leading to the ---- of her college career.

A. smiled.. beginning
B. slept.. skipping
C. laughed.. happiness
D. panicked.. community college portion

And the correct answer is... well, I'll let you decide. The point is... I don't do tests.

Maybe that's why this whole Christian thing scares me sometimes. So many people talk about "testing". And I've been there myself.

I remember lying in my bed at the age of 10...11...12...13...14...15...16...17...18...19...20...21... and crying out to God to heal me.

I remember the office visits. The hospital stays. The friends who walked away.

I remember the day I realized -- that no matter how hard I tried -- I could no longer put two notes together on the piano. I -- the girl who lived for music -- could no longer do the one thing that brought me joy.

I felt helpless. Lost. Alone.


I made an F on the whole chronic illness test. And I didn't care. I was too angry to care. I remember praying to God, "When will it be enough for You? I'm always doing things for You."

I couldn't have been more shocked than when I sensed His answer: I don't want you to do things for me. I want you.

I lay in bed as the tears streamed down my face.

If all you could do for the rest of your life was lay here and talk to Me, would that be enough for you?

He asked me that question every day for at least a week. Day after day my answer was no. But little by little, moment by moment, I began to cling to Him. He was the only thing I had left.

Until finally... my answer was yes.

He was enough.

I know what you're thinking. This is where the story gets better. This is where Jesus stretches out His hand and says, Rise up and walk. But that didn't happen. There was more testing. Another four years. More angry moments. More surrender.

More tenderness.

Because when it came down to it, this wasn't a cold impersonal test. There were no "right" bubbles to fill in. No "right" words to say. No actions that would make Him click the timer and say, "Well, time's up. You're free to go now."

No -- testing with Jesus is personal. Testing with Jesus is about clinging to Him, no matter how long the test lasts. No matter how bad things get. No matter if there's an end in sight.

He doesn't care what bubbles we fill in. He doesn't care what words we say.

He does care what's in our hearts. He does care if we cling to Him as our hope. But He's not going to force us there. He is going to leave it up to us. And when we are ready -- when we feel safe -- our hearts will cling to Him.

When I look back on those 11 years I'm so glad they're in the past. I'm so glad that four years ago Jesus stretched out His hand and said, Rise up and walk.

But it isn't over. Yesterday I came across this:

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.
- Proverbs 17:21

I've received some praise lately. Not a lot... but a little. Some days it's hard not to take the credit for what is actually a gift. Some days it's hard not to say, "thank you", and just keep moving -- as if I have somehow accomplished what it took Jesus Himself 11 years to work in my heart.

Because I know that in a moment -- just like I lost my ability to play the piano -- God can strip away the outer temporary things. And all I will be left with is Himself.

He is enough.

A while ago, I came across something that changed everything for me. It goes like this:

Have you been called to serve
Where others tried and failed,
But with God’s help and strength
YOUR efforts have prevailed?

Touch not the glory.

Has God appointed you
To some great, noble cause?
Or put you where you hear
The sound of men’s applause?

Touch not the glory.

Have you some special gift?
Some riches you can share?
Or have you learned the art
Of intercessory prayer?

Touch not the glory.

A watching world still waits
To see what can be done
Through one who touches not
That which is God’s alone.

Touch not the glory.

– Erma Davison

Sometimes, I think the greatest test of all is the one of Success.

Question for 2Day:

What tests have you faced that have lead you to believe that Jesus is enough?
Photo source: Microsoft Clip Art


Elaina M. Avalos said...

Wow. There's a lot here. So much so that I don't have an answer for your question. Which might indicate I'm not doing so hot on my test.

Thanks for making me think...

BJ Hamrick said...

The good news (for me anyway) is it's not pass or fail... it seems more that Jesus is just waiting patiently for me... until my heart is ready to hold fast to Him... thanks for commenting, Elaina. It is always good to hear what's on your heart.

Debbie said...

What a timely topic. God is amazing like that. The question for me isn't about being enough...I know He is. It's about trusting, trusting that He has everything under control.

My first response isn't one of trust or faith. Not yet. But I hope one day I'll be there. :)


BJ Hamrick said...

Yes, God is amazing like that. I love how transparent you are. To be honest, I'm not "there" either. Hang tight... it's a journey...

banderclip said...

I'm re-reading this tonight. I read it earlier and was touched since I am going through this same thing...not an illness but learning that Jesus doesn't want my outward actions or "right" answers. He wants me - and is pleased by my honesty before Him regarding whats in my heart - even if it's ugly. I'm still learning this, but He doesn't throw me out of His presence until I fix myself up enough to spend time with Him. He is patiently wooing me and drawing me.
Thanks for writing this, I needed it.

BJ Hamrick said...

Thanks so much, Christy. :) I just realized who "banderclip" is... I had to look at "the tall and the short of it" on your profile. Cool! Now we can keep in touch better since I have blogger!

banderclip said...

haha I forgot that on xanga I had to put my name, and do not have to on blogger. Sorry, not trying to be a mystery writer. lol

Christy ;)

BJ Hamrick said...

No problem - I'm still adjusting to Blogger but I like it a LOT. I'll just call you the mystery girl ;)

Shaunie Friday said...

Very special BJ! I am so often upset when people write or speak on this subject because they so often misrepresent God's heart in the process. You have written so eloquently about testing and have accurately portrayed His purpose in it--intimacy with us.

I know all about waiting--for the right guy, for high school to end, for my boobs to come in (two out of three ain't bad).

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