Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life is a test

Life is a test
By Shannon Woodward

“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”(1 Chronicles 29:17, NIV)

It’s been a tough week.

Saturday, our goat Jimmy escaped from his barn and ate one of my favorite bushes. 

Sunday, our dog Larry chewed up the cover to one of our Little House in the Prairie DVD collections. Little green bits of season three lay scattered like confetti all over the carpet. All the scotch tape in my junk drawer couldn’t reconstruct the faces of those Ingalls.

And then came Monday morning. Someone left our cat Lucy inside all night. When I emerged from the bedroom she gave me a guilty, I’ve-got-to-get-out-of-here look and swiped a claw across the front door. I lectured her briefly about not sleeping in the house and let her go.

Ten minutes later, while I was busy making breakfast, my husband asked, “What happened to your book?” I walked into the living room and saw him holding my copy of The Purpose-Driven Life. A friend had given me the beautiful, leather-bound copy, and I’d worked hard to keep it pristine. There wasn’t so much as a coffee stain, greasy fingerprint or chocolate smudge on the cover of that book. But now it was covered with cat scratches. And if you squinted just right – with one eye closed just a bit more than the other – those scratches spelled out the words “neener, neener”

“Oh, that is just IT!” All my frustration exploded. “Bushes and DVD covers and books … will it never end? Can nothing we own stay nice? Must everything be destroyed?”

But it’s a funny thing. Right in the middle of my tirade – while I was running my hands over the ruined cover and wondering how to retaliate against my cat – I remembered a single line from chapter five of the very book I was holding: “Life is a test.”

It struck me as so ironic that I had to laugh. Life is a test. God allows altered plans and disappointments and ruined possessions because he wants to see how we’re going to react. He wants to stretch our character and get our attention.

I had a clawed-up book and a chewed-up DVD cover and a naked-branched bush – but I still had my salvation. I still had Jesus. Nothing of true value had been lost.

I failed three tests this week, but in the end I think I won. Because somewhere in the middle of it all, God grabbed my heart again and re-focused my perspective.

Still, I’ll be keeping an eye on our chickens today. It’s probably their turn.

Point to ponder: God allows disappointments to stretch us.

Verse: “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” (1 Chronicles 29:17, NIV)

What will you do about it: When disappointments come today – and they will – see them as an opportunity to let go of this world and focus on heaven. Learn to say, “Oh, well.”

Prayer: Ask God to teach you to stop clutching your agenda, your plans and your possessions.

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