Pop quiz

"A faith untried is no faith at all," someone has said. Today I declared my faith before a hundred women and came home to a startling piece of bad news. Hopes were dashed, plans ruined, over a seemingly trivial thing. We did not know what to do. "Trust me" is always the word at such a time. "But Lord, we did trust You. You answered us and everything was working so beautifully. Now this. What shall we do?" "Keep on trusting me. That is my assignment for you tonight. Commit your way to Me; trust in Me; stand still and see."

Why, of course, Lord! I see what You mean. How could I be sure I'm trusting You unless You keep giving me "pop quizzes"? These are the exams in the school of faith.

"More precious than perishable gold is faith which has stood the test. These trials come so that your faith may prove itself worthy" ~ I Peter 1:7 NEB

~Elisabeth Elliot, A Lamp for My Feet

I am thankful for my current pop quiz! For one thing, this ordeal has shown me areas where I have grown a lot as a Christian in the past 10 years (it was about 10 years ago that I was in the midst of my last health crisis). For another, it has shown me exactly where I need to grow! I remember the same clarity after taking an exam in college - I knew without a doubt what knowledge I had complete possession of and confidence in, what I was uncertain about, and what I knew nothing about! In that way, tests accomplish exactly what they set out to - examination or evaluation of the present condition of the student's mind.

In many ways, that's what cancer is: a "stop and think about that!" moment in what is otherwise a hectic life. Being forced to stop and think about things and re-evaluate them in the light of potential catastrophe is more of a gift than I can explain easily to the casual observer. For example, my house is in complete disorder this week, there are dirty dishes littering the counters and sinks, laundry in various stages of folding covering our dining table, rugs that need to be shaken, toilets that need to be cleaned, and a pile of outdoor things right smack dab in front of the front door that I really should move and sort! Why? I am usually borderline neat nick! Because my Amelia needs to be held more this week, that's why! Because we all have colds, the kids are fussy, and the only thing that makes them happy is sitting in a big pile on the couch, with Mama reading stories. Last night, we giggled in bed for nearly an hour while reading "Madeline" and scheming up some games for Katy's carnival birthday party on Saturday. I am finding more joy in motherhood now than I ever have before - because the frustrations of my other, more mundane daily tasks (cleaning, dishes, organization) are put into perspective. The truth is, my house is returning to dust, and in 100 years, it will probably be like many of the other farmhouses on this road from years past - sheltered by a clump of trees Aaron planted, it will slowly disintegrate, a sunken, rotting relic of a time past. But those moments spent with my children are so precious..."gold, silver, precious stones...his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." I Corinthians 3:12-16

I do not want to be "as one escaping through the flames" on that final day. I want to be standing tall beside the choices I made through this trial, watching them come forth shining and bright as they pass through the Refiner's fire.

I come into this place burning to receive your peace
I come with my own chains
From wars I've fought for my own selfish gain
You're my God and my father
I've accepted your son
But my soul feels so empty now
What have I become?
Lord come with your fires,
burn my desires, refine me
Lord, my will has deceived me
please come and free me
Refine me, refine me

~ Jennifer Knapp, Refine Me