THE TESTS OF LIFE
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
When I got out of college in 1984, I was SOOOO excited to finally be through with tests. I was singing Alice Cooper's song, "School's out for summer... school's out forever." Little did I realize that school is never really "out." God has set up life to be a series of tests... tests to show us where we are with Him and how we need to grow.
A couple of Sundays ago was a big test day for my wife (Debbie), my daughter (Amy) and me. How did we do? The women got an "A"... the Pastor got a "D+" (and that is probably being generous). Here is what happened.
After a great service Sunday morning (mind you, I had gotten up at 4:00 a.m. to make final sermon preparations), Debbie, Amy and I loaded up the car to go to Austin for Amy's orientation week at UT. We were going to take Amy's car and let her drive the entire way so that she would be ready to fly solo come August. Well... after about 30 minutes in her car, we realized the air conditioning was not working too great. We thought it would eventually cool down as we drove on... WE WERE SO WRONG. Six hours in the car with "C-" air conditioning was our first test. What is that Greek word for grumbling? Oh ya, goggusmos. Amy reminded me that I was terribly guilty of goggusmos. PASTOR JEFF'S GRADE: D
In Rockwall, it began raining cats and dogs. As we came over a hill right before Lake Dallas, we encountered an accident. Two pickups collided... and then a Ford Focus slammed into one of the pickups, demolishing it... and leaving it sideways in our lane. With no way to see the car until it was too late, Amy jammed on the brakes with all her might... but we still hit the Ford Focus. BAM!!! I instantly feared that we would get crunched from behind. An 18 wheeler slammed on the brakes and jackknifed behind us. Several cars hit behind the 18 wheeler. By the grace of God, no one was killed or even really hurt. We were a little shaken, to say the least, but not injured... and Amy's car only had cosmetic damage. Praise God.
Since the wreck was extensive - five cars were involved in ours - it shut down the interstate for nearly two hours. We waited in the sweltering heat all that time for the police to do their thing. We finally got back in the "hot box" to finish the trip to Austin (I was now driving as Amy needed a break). Needless to say, we were thankful... but a little tense and more than a little ripe from perspiration. PASTOR'S GRADE: B.
About an hour later, we stopped to eat. After we got back in the car, Debbie began to drive. She immediately missed the turn and got us on the wrong road. I snapped at her, was very rude and made her feel stupid. She was not happy with me, and rightfully so. PASTOR JEFF'S GRADE: D-
About 30 minutes outside of Austin, we stopped for gas. It was now about 10:30 p.m. Debbie had been driving, and she and Amy went inside the store to buy some drinks and use the restroom while I pumped the gas. They left both their purses in the car... so when I got done with the gas, I locked the car and came inside the store too. We got back to the car and Debbie was horrified to find it locked... since she left the keys in the car. UGH!!! I wanted to slash my wrists. Even so, come Lord Jesus!! I was so hot, so tired, and so extremely frustrated!
All I could think of was the fact that we would have to waste more time waiting for a locksmith... and then I would need to spend even more money to finally get to Austin (as it stood, we already needed to pay to get the a/c fixed and the bumper/front end repaired). As it turned out, Debbie had left the keys in the store and easily retrieved them... BUT, the damage had been done as I angrily said a few cutting remarks to her and acted like a total jerk. It was like TEST #3 only worse. I hurt her feelings greatly and did not show her the honor and love she deserved. PASTOR JEFF'S GRADE: F-
Before we went to bed Sunday night/Monday morning, I apologized to Debbie and Amy for acting like a two year old. They graciously forgave me.
God is good through it all. He protected us in the accident and showed me things in my life that need to be changed. Although I did not pass Sunday's tests with flying colors, Jesus has not kicked me out of class. He still loves me and wants to work in my life. I am grateful and ready for the chance to respond like Jesus to the tests that await me.
Whatever you are going through today, remember, it is just a test. Keep everything in perspective and thank God for the fact that He is going to use all things for your good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.