Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Exams (07/26/04)
TITLE: The Proof of the Pudding
By Melanie Kerr
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The end of year test was divided into two parts. The theory was fine. I could tell you the difference between homogenised, pasteurised or sterilised milk. I could reel off vitamins and minerals and tell you which foods you could find them all in. I could plan you a healthy meal and work out how much you could expect to pay for it all. I could even set the table with all the knives, forks and spoons in the right places.
It was the practical examinations that let me down badly. I could not actually cook. Once a week, for four years, I diligently followed the teacher as she demonstrated how to make melt-in-your-mouth pastry, how to ice as-light-as-air sponge cakes or how to bake bread. The bread stands out as my one and only never-to-be-repeated success. Miss Barton would accuse me of bringing the wrong kind of flour from home, beating the eggs just a fraction too long or opening the oven door just a fraction too early. Nothing that she promised as guaranteed-to-succeed ever did when I pulled a wooden spoon out of the drawer. It was soul destroying as I took burn, blackened, flat unidentifiable things home to see them tipped into the dog's bowl.
What is the point of being able to rattle off the theory if you can't put it into action?
The theory of being a Christian is laid out clearly in the Bible and preached quite dynamically in churches every Sunday. Some of us rattle off memory verses word perfect and pay close attention to quiet times every day.
Jesus commanded us to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus declared that we are salt and light in tasteless and dark world. Passing the exam does not involve being able to quote the relevant chapters and verses from the bible, but in loving, in being salt and light.
Personally, I find yet again that my theory is fine but my practical demonstrations are letting me down!
At the beginning of the week, a friend of mine needed that Jesus kind of loving - the laying down your life kind of love. It wasn't convenient. It wasn't particularly appreciated at the time. It certainly wasn't easy. It's turning out to be a marathon and not a sprint. It is a far sterner test than baking a cake. I have discovered resources of love and compassion that I never knew were there. I am working to develop patience and long suffering. I am learning to give hope in tangible and practical ways to someone who has lost theirs.
As I look back over this last week, and think about the ones to come, I am convinced that I am facing an examination. I am finding out whether, in the real world, I have a real faith, in a real God, who is able to give me real resources to fight real battles and see real victories.