Points to Ponder: Testing the Winds that Test Us
Points to Ponder
Testing the Winds that Test Us
As I prepared for my bicycle trip to Laurel Mississippi, I was fairly sure I was in good shape for doing the consecutive days of 80 miles each for the two-week period. Some were longer, some shorter, but changes in terrain, weather, and the daily 6 hours of pedaling requires one's body to be efficient at work and quick to recover and replenish itself overnight. I trained in the gym, took a "spin class" twice per week, but only occasionally actually rode my bike.
The MS 150 Bike Tour (June 10-11) was the first long distance riding I did; only a month before my departure to Mississippi. That weekend was beautiful, but we rode into a strong, relentless headwind almost the entire time. I rode 100 miles on Saturday and then 75 miles on Sunday; both rides were into the wind. It is both psychologically and physically taxing to push against a constantly noisy force that you can't see and which has no definite ending anywhere that you can count on. Headwinds are worse than steep hills; the latter has a top and a downside!
But that two-day wind test was what I needed to prove my strength and endurance. Tests are not fun, but they come to prove us. Afterward we know we do (or do not) have what the road ahead will require.
In studying Genesis 22, when God called Abraham to sacrifice the child of the promise, Isaac, this was a test. He was 100 years old when Isaac was born; that's 25 years after God made the original promise of descendants. So, it's not likely at his even more advanced age, that God would send another baby to replace Isaac. It defies logic that God would test Abraham in this way.
Like pushing against a relentless wind, we may be called to go contrary to what's logical. In scripture, the Hebrew word for spirit is ruach and in the Greek, pneuma. These words mean "wind" or "breath." Life consists of spiritual headwinds that test us.
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul describes our conflicts on earth as not being against people or persons but against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12)
There are contrary winds that blast us as we press on to follow the Lord. They test us and lets us know how committed we are to the course to which God has called us. Abraham was certainly feeling a strong "wind" against him as he headed toward that mountain. Packing the wood and the knife, and taking his unsuspecting son who trusted his father's faith, Abraham pressed on.
You know the bumper sticker that reads: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." For many of us, we may feel that way depending on what the "it" is. For Abraham "it" was everything, the culmination of his and Sarah's faith in God's call upon them. The test went on with no hint or evidence that Isaac or the promise itself would survive it. But, without answers and without asking questions, Abraham obeyed.
In the end Isaac was spared, but because of Abraham's unflinching commitment to God's word above even the most valuable thing he knew on earth, the test showed God what God already knew. Most of all it showed Abraham himself and those who would look to him as the model of true faith, that indeed he believed God. And because of his obedience, God reiterated His earlier promise of descendants.
That's an interesting point for us to ponder. Because of his obedience (22:15-19), God would use Isaac and his descendants to bless the world. Why was that promise contingent on obedience to such an incredible test? Abraham had to release his grip on Isaac.
What do you need to release?
There is so much that God could be doing or is planning to do through us; but will we let Him. Obedience and letting go are essential aspects of realizing God's promises in our lives. Are you being tested, your faith being pressed and resisted by a prevailing and relentless "wind?" The spirit of this world can so easily test us in the day to day journey that we don't even realize how often we have slowed up, backed down, or pulled off the road altogether.
Tests from God are meant for believers to pass. We are not tested beyond our capacity to prevail in that test (I Corinthians 10:13). He makes "a way of escape that you may be able to bear it." Your capacity has to be tried so that you know what it is.
There is a way; and a way is something you must move through. The wheels steer more easily when the vehicle is moving.
Are you moving? Are you obedient in the moment? We are often being prepared for weightier blessing for which the testing is strengthening us. Keep going.
Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site, www.fumcl.org, and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.