It’s All A Test…..

I remembered something I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Years ago I was interviewing for a rather coveted job for those with sales career ambitions. At the interview I was asked to take a personality inventory, which I did. The next day I received a call and was asked to retake the test, that the results had been “ambiguous”…..?????? “How does one have an ambiguous personality inventory?”, I wondered.

So I took it again.

I then got another call and was told by the interviewing manager that the HR person had told him after the first “ambiguous” results had scored out, that I was either under a tremendous amount of stress which made my test results indecipherable or I was one of the most self-aware and self-actualized individuals she’d ever tested.  Hmmmmmm…… I made an excuse to them about concern for the health of a grandparent who was hospitalized at the time….which was true, but it was not a situation that would have stressed me to the extent of muddying up the results of a personality test.  But I didn’t want to scare the hiring managers before I even got a chance to prove myself!

I got the job…..and continued it for quite a few years. LOL! Guess I fooled ’em, huh?

Just shows what can be accomplished if one is adept at taking tests.

Ten or more years before that  experience I had taken another battery of psychological tests with another company while being considered for a job promotion.  The testing manager sent a letter with the results to my supervisor.  It said that I had broken all records for the company for my scores in certain areas but neglected to explain which areas or in which direction I broke the records!  While I didn’t know the specifics of the results, my boss did and I was pressed to take the promotion. However, I was happy in my sales representative status and did not want to take on the greater responsibilities, travel, and supervision of others that would have been necessarry with the promotion.  Human Resource managers can test all they want to and come to a variety of conclusions, but when it gets right down to it,  there are some things for which they can’t test…… like ambition or motivations that don’t fit their neatly categorized assumptions.

This past week our sermon included consideration of ways in which Scripture tells us that God “tests” us, based on God’s instruction to Abraham to take Isaac to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him.  When I think about life as a “test” some of us are challenged and put our best efforts into what we encounter, expecting to be able to meet some percentile of performance of which we know we are capable.  But with God’s tests, it seems  that one can only  “pass” or “fail”.  And if it is a “fail”, one sinply finds herself repeating the test again and again in different formats or with different problems until she gets it right.

With Abraham’s test on Mt. Moriah, God sought to prove the mettle of Abraham’s faith….but to whom?  Would Abraham trust God’s promises, goodness, and sovereignty?   The Scripture’s description of Abraham’s actions suggest that Abraham did not question any of those…. Abraham’s immediate move to obedience and conversation with his servants and his son point to an expectation that God would raise the child from the dead.  That seemed to be the only logical conclusion for how God could keep his promises while calling for the sacrifice of Isaac.

Today as I thought about that situation once again, I think while God was testing Abraham’s loyalty to God and  whether any idolatry lurked in Abraham’s heart over the long-awaited son Isaac, God may have been testing and refining Isaac as well….. When one is most confused and vulnerable, bound on the altar as it were, and it seems that everything is about to end in disaster, God brings a just-in-time solution we had not even considered, in defiance of all appearances or assumptions.  Isaac must surely have been impressed by the extent to which his father was faithful and prepared to trust and obey God with his own most beloved, precious possession….. and even more so by the extent to which God could be trusted to be faithful and keep his Word and act on behalf of those who were obedient.

This was Isaac’s initiation into what would be required of him, too, in the years to come…. to become a living sacrifice to God……to know that his choice, like his Father’s, would always have to be to trust and obey God.  Period. Would it have impacted how he lived his life and how he related to God and his own sons, Jacob and Esau?  I expect so.  Are we aware of how our response in obedience to God impacts those who are part of our lives?   Will our response demonstrate to them them the trustworthiness of God’s promises, goodness, and sovreignthy, too?  Will our children see that God will do whatever is necessary to be known as steadfastly faithful to his promises, even if it requires supernaturally raising one from the dead?

Perhaps God was testing the devil, too, to see if he would learn the lesson of God’s sovereignty and goodness…. that just because God calls one to be willing to give up everything, God does not necessarily demand or even allow all to be given up.   God’s goodness and sovereignty always affirms life, even resurrection,  and defies human assumptions about the logic of God’s directives.  There is always a substitutionary sacifice that is available to take the place of that which God calls us to surrender.  To clutch at preserving one’s life is to lose it…. to surrender it to God is to gain it back.