A great number of individuals experience anxiety resulting in mood swings, poor performance, complete loss of skills, and even temporary paralysis. Categorically speaking, test anxiety affects our emotions, cognitive function, physical performance, and behavior. Often, when an examiner or teacher realizes one of her students is adversely affected by test anxiety, she will arrange the examination in such a way to limit the stress upon the student in order to bring out the best within the student. However, if we know that tests create a level of anxiety within individuals that leads to failure, why administer tests at all? The validity and usefulness of testing is hotly debated within modern academia. However, the type of testing in my cross-hairs is not over subject matter but character. There may be numerous ways to test our knowledge of a particular subject (i.e. Jeopardy, standardized exams, debates, recitals, performance practicums, etc.); however, the “crucible” is where our character is tested. By crucible, I mean a situation which presents us with two or more options, where only one is the correct choice and the other options are incredibly desirable. We see such an example in an interaction between God and Moses in Exodus 32. The story of Israel’s crafting and worship of the golden calf is well known, but this scene includes an interaction between God and Moses that is puzzling to students of the Bible. Summarized, the interaction involves God telling Moses that Israel has forsaken Him and that He is going to destroy the entire nation. Additionally, He will make Moses a great nation in place of Israel. Moses responds by pleading with God not to kill Israel because the surrounding nations would think that God is evil because He seemingly rescued Israel only to kill them. God comforts and responds to Moses by stating that He will not bring destruction upon Israel (Ex. 32:7-14). This event puzzles us for two reasons. First, we do not understand why God would offer promises of blessing to Moses at the cost of Israel. Second, we do not understand how God could change His mind and seem so flighty. However, if we view this scene within the framework that God is sanctifying both Israel and Moses, then we see it in a different and more suitable light. You see, GOD IS TESTING, REFINING, & PROOFING MOSES. At the core of the interaction was the process of refining and proofing Moses’ view of God. What do I mean? Think of it like this, God offers Moses the chance to be great and experience tremendous earthly success, but all Moses can see is what Egypt and the other nations would think and say about God. Moses was more concerned about the name and glory of God than his own! God wanted Moses and us to see this development within Moses. Remember, when God first called to Moses, Moses did not want to obey God because he was afraid of what others would think about him—especially his stutter. Now, Moses is more afraid of what others would say about God. This testing offered Moses the opportunity to see his growth/sanctification. Think about it, do you think it was easy for Moses to turn down the invitation to be highly blessed by the Lord? Do you think it was easy for Moses to ask God not to destroy the people that have exhausted him with their needs, complained to him constantly, wish curses upon him, and even vocalized to him their contemplation to stone him? Though this recorded interaction is brief, I do not think that Moses made his decision to turn down God’s offer without some turmoil. What basis do I have to think this way? Moses was human just as we are human. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar to what I’ve experienced. I’ve received a few offers to leave my present job or location in order to take a new position or live in a new place at various points in my life. Sometimes I turned these offers down without even thinking about it. Other times the offers seemed so good that I’ve pined over what to do. However, I’m pretty sure none of us ever received an offer like the one God extended to Moses! Surely this offer would have been very appealing, but Moses did not fail his test from God. Why? How is it that he did not fail this test? Moses was close to God. I submit to you that Moses passed the test God issued because Moses was in the presence of God. Since Moses was in the presence of God, Moses was able to discern the greater value and blessing of God’s glory over his own fame and success. Because Moses saw God, Moses was captivated by the thought that all people should glorify God—even if it meant that God should show mercy to those that had given him such a difficult time. This, my friends, is the message and hope of the Gospel—God extends his grace and mercy to us for His glory and our good! Let’s land this plane and conclude this devotion with a few questions of self-examination:
HAVE I EXPERIENCED GOD’S PRESENCE TO THE POINT THAT I AM CONCERNED WITH HIS GLORY OVER MY OWN?
Does my heart hurt more at the thought of the blaspheming of God’s or my name?
Does my soul yearn for exalting God or myself?
If, like me, you struggle to desire God’s glory above your own, the solution is to run to the presence of God! Ask God to allow you to have a fresh experience and perspective of Him that sets your heart and thoughts straight. Remember, we cannot fix ourselves, but we can run to the One who can! I love you and look forward to worshiping with you this Wednesday night. In Christ, Pastor Darin