Friday, October 12, 2012

The Test



OK, I admit I had another wild dream, but once again I feel there is a lesson to be learned here, so please bear with me!

I rushed toward a large igloo-shaped structure where I was going to take the most important test of all time. I’m a graduate of Princeton University and Cornell Medical School and have had interviews at other prestigious universities and for jobs around the country, so I realize all that can hinge on a brief performance situation, but this was different.

What made this test so unusual was that I didn’t know what the anticipated outcome would be if I passed or if I failed – all I knew was that I had to pass no matter what. Even worse, I had no idea what the test parameters or criteria were, just that I had to convince whoever was making the final decision to choose me.

A long line of applicants wound tightly around the huge dome, and as I raced toward the end of the line, I arrived there at the same time as, or, more honestly, a split second after, another applicant. We both jockeyed for position, and even though I knew she really had arrived first, I pushed ahead of her, due to my sense that time was of the essence.

But surprisingly, the line was moving at lightning speed, and within moments I was inside the dome. There were many displays set up, which appeared to be miniature dioramas depicting battles and other world events, although I didn’t understand their significance. There were also writings in arcane languages I couldn’t read, and I was baffled as to what I was supposed to do next.

“Do you know how much time we have?” another applicant asked me anxiously.

“No, but it’s probably not going to be enough, so there’s no sense in wasting it on pointless discussions,” I replied rudely.

Still having no idea what I was supposed to do, I assumed that I should write a report on the exhibits, but there was no paper. I asked the proctor if he had any, and he handed me a tiny slip of lined paper that would barely hold a few words, along with a large stack of other materials. These included draftsman’s tools (a T-square and a right-angle triangle), a score to the opera La Traviata, and a large, gaudy, sequined applique decoration.

Of course, these additional materials did nothing to clarify the task at hand. I was now hopelessly confused and despondent of ever achieving the desired result, and tried to make the best of a dismal situation. The paper was far too small for me to write an essay or even the simplest of observations. I am terrible at drawing and don’t know how to make blueprints, so I knew I couldn’t use the drafting tools to impress the examiner with my abilities. I don’t read Italian, and although I enjoy singing, I doubt I could do justice to any of the arias in the La Traviata score.

Which left the big, tacky, sparkling applique decoration. True, it didn’t really belong to me, but maybe I could use it to adorn a dance costume, and the proctor hadn’t specifically said not to take the test materials out of the building, I rationalized, so what would be the harm in keeping it?

Suddenly it hit me how miserably I had failed. The test was not about my answers, or essay, or artwork, or singing, or about my performance at all – at least not in terms of how the world measures success. The test had served to prove what a terrible person I am, one unworthy of any special position or consideration.

First, I had put my own needs ahead of those of another, even though she rightly deserved to go ahead of me. Then I was rude and mean-spirited to someone who needed my help and encouragement. Finally, I had falsely justified stealing something that wasn’t mine.

I awoke in a panic, the motor of my mind racing at breakneck speed. But then I felt an all-forgiving sense of peace and acceptance as I felt the loving embrace of Jesus.  

“I came to seek and save that which was lost; to bring not the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” I imagined Him saying (Luke 19:10 5:32). He did it all, the perfect sacrifice for our sins, dying on the cross to reconcile sinners to His Holy Father, and rising again so that all who place their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15).

No one can pass the test, for we are all sinners deserving eternal punishment in hell (Romans 3:10, 23). Our limited human minds can’t even bend around the idea of what that would be like, in all its horror (Mark 9:43-48), or what wonderful blessings Our Father has planned in Heaven for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). How tragic it is that the lost don’t even realize the stakes involved, or know how to be sure they can spend eternity in Heaven.

As we enter the dome of this world for our all-too-brief stay (James 4:14), there are many opportunities to excel, bringing the world’s admiration for our accomplishments, or glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31), depending on our motives (1 Corinthians 3:8-15). We operate from our little corner of the universe, watching world events unfold throughout history without any true understanding.

But what the Bible makes clear is that none of us can perform well enough or do sufficient good works to earn our way to Heaven, because our righteousness is as filthy rags beside His pure holiness (Isaiah 64:6). We are saved by His grace through faith, not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The T-square in the dream reminded me of the cross, where Jesus said “It is finished,” (John 19:30) as He alone accomplished His saving work to reconcile us to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Hebrews 2:17). And the triangle reminded me of the Trinity, as well as of the relationships that God commands us to have. If we imagine ourselves at the right angle of the triangle, we are to love Him (extending upward in the vertical direction of the triangle), and to love one another (extending outward in the horizontal direction of the triangle; Luke 10:27)

Due to our sin nature, we sometimes turn our attention not to heavenly things such as the cross or the Trinity, but we let our minds and hearts drift to the glittery, yet eternally insignificant, baubles the world provides (Romans 12:2;; Matthew 6:19-25). Even worse, we may resort to stealing, hurting other people, or other sinful means to get what we think we want, when the best and perfect gifts (James 1:17) of His grace (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9) and wisdom (James 1:5) are freely available to all His children.

Time is short, and we will meet with temptation along the way. Interestingly, I just searched Google and learned that the name “La Traviata” means “The Fallen Woman” or “The Woman Who Goes Astray.” God always provides a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), but sadly, we don’t always take it. Yet when we fail, praise God that the shed blood of His Son washes away our sins (John 1:29), and that when God looks at us He sees not our sins, but the perfect righteousness of His Son! (Romans 4)

The true test is not our own qualificatiions or how well we can perform on our own, for without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). But when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that we are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23), and that He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), He immediately accepts us and grants us entry! He transforms us from His enemies to His children, joint heirs with Christ, and His ambassadors! (Romans 8:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20)

The true test is how we answer His question, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17)


© 2012 Laurie Collett


 

43 comments:

  1. Sometimes I think, what would I do, if I had been witness of Jesus death. And I don't know. Maybe I would be more like Peter and other apostles... Greetings and blessings to You! :)

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Zim! Even those who saw Christ's earthly ministry and spent 3 years with Him had their failings -- Peter denied Him, none stayed awake to pray with Him the night before His trial, and only John was present at the cross. Praise God that He forgives all through the shed blood of His Son!
    Greetings & blessings to you too!
    Laurie

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  3. A remarkable article! Waiting in line or in a queue has always brought up my weakness of impatience. Like the time when I was waiting at a bank to make a transaction. Of the six cashier points, three were vacant (no one serving) and the other three had customers whose business transactions seem to go on forever - talking, jotting down, talking, not to mention the cashier rising from his seat and disappearing to find something in some unseen file cabinet, making the queue very stationary indeed, while the customer being served stands there at the now abandoned point, picking his nose! Those are the times I want to scream out, holler and protest against the rest of the banking staff out playing golf while we continue to wait - and wait - in a queue that doesn't move!!! (Not made up, the above is actually true.) Eventually, the cashier who eventually served me was able to see my tenseness, and he wasn't too pleased about it.
    Then again, while I was waiting, if someone approached and tried to persuade me to buy insurance I had no interest in...
    I thank God that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and as you say, God does not see our sins anymore, in us he sees Jesus. Otherwise we have absolutely no hope at all.
    A great post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Frank! I truly appreciate your encouragement. That sounds like a maddening experience you had! I know that patience is definitely not one of my virtues. I'm ashamed to say that I'm reluctant to pray for patience, since I'm not too keen on bringing on tribulation, which results in patience!

      Amen to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and to imputed righteousness.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  4. Laurie--I'm not sure which is more remarkable--your dream or the way you remembered the DETAILS of the dream. God can use everything to speak to us. You are a good listener (and teacher!)

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  5. Thanks, Jody Lee, for your kind words! Even before I was saved, I was interested in dreams, and for awhile in college, I kept a notebook by my bed and scribbled down everything I could remember every time I awoke during the night. You'd be amazed what details there are when you do that. I haven't done that for decades (it would be a real strain on our marriage, not to mention on my sleep :-) ), but I guess the practice helped me to remember more of my dreams. I am blessed that God has used this to instruct me, and that He gives me the opportunity to share it with others.
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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  6. Hi Laurie,
    This is an awesome post. It is inspirational and gives serious food for thought. Thanks for stopping by my Blog and becoming a Follower. I am happy to become a Follower of your Blog. Take care and God Bless.
    Judy

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    1. Thanks so much, Judy, for your sweet comment & for following! May you have a blessed week in Him!

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  7. Laurie, this is fascinating! I love how God is speaking through your dreams and appreciate this sharing.this lesson of grace is one I can never hear enough.

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  8. How often God needs to remind us of our own unworthiness. Human pride seems to constantly push the idea we can do at least part of it ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Amen, dfish! That is the downfall of the Mormon church, for example, for they say "We do our best, & Jesus does the rest." But He paid it all, and there is nothing we can do to work our way to Heaven.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  9. Linking in from A Holy Experience. I totally agree - what are we aiming for? What line are we in? Are we listening to God? Are we following His advice? What will He say when He meets us?
    Blessings,
    Jan

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    1. Thanks, Jan, for your visit & thought-provoking comment! May we be blessed to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good & faithful servant."
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  10. That's an incredible dream! Thanks for sharing this blessing!

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  11. Beautifully written.. thanks for posting.
    Diane
    Treasuringgrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Diane! Blessings to you.
      Laurie

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  12. That was some dream! I'm so thankful that God allowed you to remember the details and that you wrote His truths so beautifully. We are so sunk without Him! Glory to God for His mercy and grace!
    I'm a new follower and would love for you to visit and, if blessed, follow!
    www.marywomantowoman.blogspot.com

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    1. Great to "meet" you, Mary! Thanks so much for your sweet comment & for following -- I'm following you back!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. Great message! Thanks so much for sharing this at Thriving Thursdays! I'm pinning this on my Thriving Thursdays board as well.

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    1. Awesome -- thanks so much!! God bless,
      Laurie

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  14. Wow! You have such amazing dreams, and your ability to decipher them is remarkable. Such great wisdom found here. Only when we get to the end of ourselves and see what dirty sinners we really are, do we find Jesus and embrace what He did for us and why. God Bless you Laurie!!

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    1. God bless you, Alecia, for your kind comment! Praise God that He loved us, and died for us, while we were yet sinners. Such an amazing mystery!
      Laurie

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  15. It's amazing how thoughts that come to us in our dreams can be translated into something so positive when we're awake. Thank you for sharing your insights!

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    1. You're very welcome, mail4rosey! It's a blessing to me that others could learn something positive from my post.
      May you have a blessed weekend in Him!
      Laurie

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  16. What an awesome story depicted in your dream! How true we fail when we pursue our own desires and way ahead of what Jesus desires for us. Thank you for sharing at "Tell me a Story."

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Hazel! The greatest blessing we could possibly have is to be in the center of His perfect will, yet we so often think we know best and stray off the path.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  17. Wow. And here I thought I was something for dreaming about unclogging a garbage disposal. And zombies.

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    1. Hi Brandee! Thanks for your comment! Wishing you sweet dreams,
      Laurie

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  18. Great post Laurie. I loved your ending -

    ' The true test is how we answer this question "Do you love me! '



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    1. Thanks, Anita! I appreciate your kind words.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  19. Wow. What a prophetic dream you had? It is true that we all have expectations and worry about passing the test, but the test isn't ours to take. Thanks for linking in to the randomness today.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle, for your comment and for hosting. Praise God that Jesus took and passed the test for all of us.
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  20. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Wishing you a beautiful weekend God Bless xo

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    1. Thanks for hosting & for your comment, Katherine!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  21. Newest follower here! I found you through the Friday blog hop! Cute blog, I can’t wait to read more!
    -meandmr.com

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    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment & for following! I'm going to hop over to your blog now!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  22. Wow you have such vivid dreams! Thanks for sharing with my NO RULES Weekend Blog Party :)

    Paula
    lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for hosting & for your comment, & have a great week in Him!
      Laurie

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  23. Laurie...like your other dream post, a lesson was evident. This week you are the reader's choice at WJIM. I'm glad to feature you. Have a good week.

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm blessed & honored. May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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