I remember taking the SAT test back in the dark ages of High School. It was 1971, and I was a junior at the Colegio Americano de Guatemala. It was a cool morning, and I was anxious.
Tests are an inevitable part of life. There are formal tests like the ones in school. There are events that test our character. There are people who evaluate us, and we them.
God seems to put tests in front of us. God is all knowing, and must know the result even before the test. The test must then be for us.
I did well on the language skills of the SAT, and not so well on the math skills. The test revealed what I already knew.
But there have been other tests in my life that have shown me things about myself that I did not know. Sometimes I have discovered hidden strengths and virtues. Sometimes I have discovered hidden flaws and sin.
In Deuteronomy 9 verse 13, Moses is talking with the people of Israel before they enter the promise land. He is reminding them of the events of the last 40 years. He says “The Lord said to me, "I have seen these people. They are so stubborn! 14 Do not try to stop me. I am going to destroy them. I will wipe them out from the earth. Then I will make you into a great nation. Your people will be stronger than they were. There will be more of you than there were of them."”
In verse 14, God says to Moses, “Do not try to stop me, I am going to destroy them.”
What is going on here? Is God playing mind games with Moses? Or is God testing Moses?
God seems to be testing Moses, to see if he has really adopted God’s people, as stubborn, unfaithful, sinful as they are. Moses is offered a chance to replace Abraham, to be the new father of a great people. Yet he turns it down, instead devoting 40 days to intercede for the people and for his brother Aaron.
What just happened? Did God change his mind when Moses prayed, or did God show Moses how much God had changed him?
As Christians, we face the same test as Moses. Will we love God’s people, and intercede for them, even though they are stubborn, unfaithful, and sinful? Or will we be swayed by the temptation to believe that we can do better than the people God has gathered and called the Church?
For me, I know the answer. The tests in my life have shown that I am stubborn, unfaithful, and sinful. And yet, despite repeated failures amid occasional success, God still loves me. May I have grace to love and serve his people as he does.