(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 9 of Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we ask if you feel like it, to please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirits!)
Chapter 9 Testing One, Two, Three was just the right slap across the head I needed. A few days ago I was praying to God, begging him to show me what I need to do. I specifically prayed for Him to "slap me across the head with what I need to be doing." Sure enough, He did.
In Chapter 9, Stormie talks about the tests that God gives us. How these tests are not like tests we're given at school to find out what we know. He already knows what we know. He uses the tests for us. For us to learn what we're made of. I love how Stormie says on page 81 "The results of the tests God gives us, depending on our attitude in the midst of the testing, will determine whether we are refined like gold by the process or become cold and hard like steel. It won't necessarily be how much we know that counts, but what we do with the knowledge we've got. It's how we take the test." Stormie then mentions how God doesn't give us a grade from these tests. We either pass, or we keep taking it until we get it right. The story of Job is also mentioned in this chapter. Job suffered an incredible amount in his time of testing yet he never lost faith and never doubted God. Stormie also talks about the Israelites and how they continued to doubt God even after He performed miracle after miracle. She then discusses three different tests that God gives us at some point in our lives: God tests our heart, God tests our faith and God tests our obedience. Stormie says on page 87 "your reaction during this period will be revealing. Will you love Him above all else? Will you believe He is who He says He is and trust Him to provide for your needs? Will you do what He tells you to do? If you are fearful and bitter during this process, you delay the blessings God is waiting to rain on you. That's what the Israelites did, and they wandered around for forty years on a journey that should have taken just a few weeks."
Well, after reading this chapter I've come to a big discovery....I am so the Israelites. I know I am. I am failing this test big time and I am so thankful I am reading this book again. (Yes, I said again. I guess I didn't get it the first go around several years ago.) I am part of the reason why this test is taking so long. What test you may wonder? Autism. First, let me start off by saying I am a firm believer that our God has the power to heal. When it is His timing, He will reach down and heal my son. I have no doubt in my mind about it. What I don't understand is why it's taking so long. I've had the hardest time lately trying to understand why I'm seeing so many children recover but not my own. Why is it that so many other children are getting better and mine has two good weeks where we feel like he's almost there and then WHAM!!! we take three steps back. Then, I read this chapter. I am failing all three of His tests right now. I am the Israelites and I do not want to be the Israelites. I do not want to turn this journey through autism into an extremely long one that was only meant to last a short amount of time. While reading Chapter 9, I realized that I really am failing all three of His tests. So, I'm going to really humble myself and share with you where I'm messing up in hopes that we can all pass these tests quickly!
Test One: God tests our hearts
Stormie says "just when we have enough arrogance to think we can live one moment without Him, God searches our heart for humility. If found wanting, He allows us to hit rock bottom and gain a new perspective." I can't tell you how many times my son is doing great and I want to shout it on the roof tops how wonderful he's doing. I want to tell everyone "look! See, I'm not crazy. Everything we're doing for him is working!" Sure I say a lot of thank yous to God but they're usually followed by a few more requests. "Ok God, now that he's not scripting any more, can you please help him play with his brother?" I think it's perfectly fine for me to always be praying for my children. Especially praying for healing over my son with autism. But when Stormie says on page 85 "would I do what God wanted or what I wanted?" I honestly couldn't answer it right away. My first thought was "it depends on what God wants. Does He want my son to be healed?" That was such a scary thought. But then it hit me. What God wants for me is what's best for me. I need to fully trust in Him. I need to be like Job and never doubt Him.
Test two: God tests our faith
I realized I've been failing this test as well when I read the following from Stormie...."When our faith is tested during these times, our response to it is revealing. Do we trust Him to provide, or do we get angry and take it out on others? Do we view this as a time that God wants us to draw closer to Him, or do we see it as the termination of our future? Do we understand that God is testing us in order to prepare us for what He is going to do in our lives, or do we believe He is forsaking us? Will we lose patience in this time, or will we grow in faith? The answers we give to these questions are the keys to passing the test."
Yes, I'm pretty much failing this test too. Well, not all of the time. When my son has his good weeks, I'm there. I've aced this test. I can look back and see that He provided. I can see that I need to draw close to Him. I know that my faith is growing. On his rough weeks, I've failed. I'm angry. I'm not trusting Him like I should. I don't understand what this is happening. And I certainly don't have the patience while I wait. If I keep this up, this is going to be a never ending test.
Test three: God tests our obedience
Stormie starts explaining this test with the following verse 'In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.' (Exodus 16:4)
God is testing us to help us. He wants to help us stay away from sin. Yet, I still manage to fail this test when it comes to spending time in His word. I get so swamped with my day to day happenings that I never truly spend as much time with Him as I need to. Sure I pray. I pray in the shower, I pray in the car, before I fall asleep, etc...but I don't spend much time reading the Bible. You know, the one place I can truly learn how to be obedient.
So what's a girl to do? How do I study for these tests? God really spoke to me while reading this chapter and writing this blog entry. For me, I need to spend alot more time with Him and lot less time worrying. I need to give Him as much time as I possibly can. I'm going to start by asking God to search my heart. Show me where I'm going wrong. I'm going to pray that He will help me be faithful and not question why things are happening and instead ask Him what He needs for me to learn during this time. The most important thing I'm going to do is spend alot more time in His word. This will show me where I need more obedience.
The last people I want to be like are the Israelites. I don't want this journey through autism to last much longer than it should.
'Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me and I walk continually in your truth.' (Psalm 26:2-3)
Thank you so much for everyone in this study. Thank you for bringing us together when we need each other the most. Lord I pray that You will give us an everlasting faithfullness in you. Help us never to doubt You and to always trust in You. Lord I pray that when we are going through a test where we need to learn something, we all learn it quickly and can pass it with flying colors. I pray that we will never miss out on your blessings because of being too consumed in a test. Help us be like Job...patient, faithful and never doubting.
In Your name we pray,