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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Exams (07/26/04)

TITLE: Parchment Minions of Angst & Refiners by Fire
By John Hunt
07/28/04

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It has been said that as long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in school. This is most likely true, considering that the mere notion of an impending exam sends a good majority of pupils into a sleep-deprived, caffeinated anxiety. Petrified students trudge into classrooms every day like so many sheep to the slaughter, nervously clutching their number two pencils as they silently whisper a short desperate prayer.

Exams are a peculiar animal, at least modern ones are. Intended to evaluate one’s knowledge, these parchment minions of angst often serve only to test our ability to take tests, and not necessarily our comprehension or proficiency of a subject. As a result, our institutions have developed the precarious situation in which some students might do poorly and have a good knowledge of the material being tested, and other students might excel despite having only a cursory familiarity of the very same material. I’m not a critic, mind you. After all, I’m certainly not innovative enough to formulate a better educational model. And to be honest, I have always liked taking tests--I most likely would fit into the latter of the aforementioned categories of students. There is something seriously wrong with me, I know.

The dictionary defines a test is as “a procedure for critical evaluation; a means of determining the presence, quality, or truth of something; a trial.”

In light of this definition, each day of our life could be considered a test. Consider if you will, that when we are born, we have no abilities or experiences to draw upon as we face each day. Solely dependent upon our parents for sustenance, we are gradually indoctrinated into the art of being human. Precept upon precept, little by little, we are taught the simple acts of living, each trial becoming an accomplishment as we learn to crawl, walk, feed ourselves, and eventually program a VCR (well, some of us anyway). As we pass these simple trials in life (I say “simple” in the fact that we all overcome them, but the mechanics and neuronal conditioning required just to learn how to walk are phenomenally complex), they become second nature; one could say we “pass with flying colors.”

For the Christian, the analogy is equally applicable. We face tests every day in our walk with Christ. When we are “born again,” we have no inherent abilities to face these trials, only the paternal guidance of the Holy Spirit to sustain us. As we sojourn and face each test in life, we learn and grow and overcome. Subsequently we “pass with flying colors” the more rudimentary trials that come our way.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4 (NIV)

As essential as learning to walk or feeding oneself is to survival, overcoming trials in the Christian life is paramount to growing and remaining in the faith. Although these tests may be difficult, remember that our ultimate reward for overcoming them is eternal.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1:6-8 (NIV)

So the next time you have a pop quiz, final exam, or dinner appointment with your in-laws, remember that it is a test, it is only a test…and that you are being refined by fire.


Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight08/02/04
It's a test only a test. Nice article and reminder.
Deborah Anderson08/02/04
Very true. Thank you and God bless.
Joanne Malley08/02/04
Nice article; you shared a great message with us all! :)
Mary Elder-Criss08/04/04
Your opening line really caught my attention...I had to laugh. God does test us by fire, for the process of refining and making us pure. Good read, thanks for sharing.
Linda Miller08/07/04
John - what a wonderful read . . . thoroughly enjoyed your entry.