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Final exams- Lessons from the wilderness, #1

Posted on Mar 2, 2015 by in Blog Posts, Broken places | 0 comments

exam2

In my last post, I listed 7 reasons for going through the wilderness.  Number 1 was “to test us”.

In college, the week of final exams was brutal.  The libraries all over campus overflowed with students pulling all-nighters- finishing final presentations, essays, and cramming for the exams.  One semester I remember devouring multiple bags of cheddar cheese Chex Mix while memorizing bone structures for Anatomy 209 and the blood vessels of several organ systems for my physiology course.

And one afternoon, before an especially difficult final, I was reading the Psalms and came across this verse:

In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Psalm 94:19, NKJV

I knew that God had given me this verse as a gift that day…a reminder that He was with me.  Instantly, a deep calm settled on me, replacing the fear and anxiety with peace and comfort.  I held that verse in my heart as I walked across campus towards my final.

I meditated on this verse and on His love for me all the way to the building where my final exam was being conducted.  My Prince of Peace walked with me.

“In the multitude of my anxieties…your comforts delight my soul.”

I did well on that exam- and not just because I studied.  I felt His presence with me the whole time- almost like He was taking the final along with me!

There are days that I long for the simple stress of finals week at the University of Wisconsin- in many ways it was much easier than what I’m going through now.  It feels like finals week every day, with no summer vacation in sight!

Have you ever had to ford a rushing river, or watched someone do it?  It’s a difficult feat that requires 100% of your skill, strength, balance, and attention. With every step you hold your breath, hoping that your foot doesn’t slip on the wet rocks, that the torrent doesn’t overpower you, and that you won’t lose your balance and get swept downstream into the rushing rapids.

I told Nate that it feels like I’ve been fording a raging river every day.  A constant battle.  A struggle.  High tide, high rapids, high pressure.  And every day, with the help of Jesus, I make it across,… only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

I’ve often found myself asking God lately…”How long, God? How much longer?  Have I passed this test yet?  I’m hanging on to You for dear life, but I’m getting so tired!  Battle weary!  Won’t You step in and airlift me out of this rushing river?”

And just today He reminded of my “finals verse”…

In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Yes, Lord!  Your comforts DO delight my soul…even when comfort seems far away and I feel stranded out here in this wilderness.  Your comforts delight me.

I believe that by reminding me of this verse, He’s telling me that yes, I will pass this exam!  I just need to hang on a little while longer.  He is with me, never to forsake me.

And here is another promise that Jesus is placing in my heart at this moment:

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2, NIV

If He’s calling me to ford a river every day, He’s also promised me that I won’t drown!  I might go down in the middle, but He will always reach down and set me back on my feet.  I am not alone.

And as Job said, “when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10, NIV).  He is testing you (and me) in the fire in order to burn out of us everything that is holding us back.  He’s burning the “ugly” out of us, so to speak.

The wilderness is a test.  What are you made of?  Will you cave under the pressure and the weariness of the every day struggles?  Will you run to the Author and the Finisher of your faith, or run away?

If we run away, we will never come forth as gold.  If we don’t go through our crucifixion, we will never experience the resurrection.  If we refuse to walk with God through our wilderness, we will never experience His faithfulness and His miraculous provision in the desert of our souls.

It is only in the wilderness that we see His miracles.

It is only after going through the wilderness that we will see our reward:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor’s crown, the life God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12, NIV

 

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

Psalm 66:8-12, ESV

 

And it is only in the wilderness that God can reveal what is in your heart:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you… to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, NIV

 

Finally, it is only after walking through the wilderness that you can experience the joy of the glory of God in you:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV

His glory will be revealed in you!  After the test, after the rivers, after the wilderness, you will experience the glory of God alive in you!  You can be overjoyed when His glory is revealed in you.

Is it worth it, being tested past what you think you can handle, even past your breaking point?

I would say so.

 

Dear Jesus, come to us today.  Come for us today, in the middle of this wilderness.  Reveal to us who You are.  Comfort us and reassure us.  Turn our dry, parched hearts into pools of Your Living Water.  Fill us up again!  Sustain us in this wasteland.  Be our Bread of Life.  We are weary.  We are battle-worn.  We are desperate for you!  Come for us in a big way…show us that You are here with us- that You have never left!  Be our Shield, our Glory, and the Lifter of our weary heads.  Walk us through this wilderness into Your glory!  Reveal Your glory in us, Lord Jesus! 

We believe in You.  We trust in You.  We cling to You.  Thank You, Jesus, for counting us worthy of being tested.  Thank You for trusting us with this wilderness journey.  Most of all, thank You for walking with us through our wasteland and never leaving us or forsaking us.  We love You, Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name,  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3414635209″>cinderella</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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