So it’s finals season in school. Easily the worst time of year for a law student because for students in my situation, it’s the season where your grade for the entire semester is decided….by 1 test (yep, just one). I have a little routine that I do on test days to help me to focus on what really matters (because I refuse to let a grade define the totality of who I am), and then I grab my bag, head to campus, take the test, and go back home to decompress. Now, the slightly helpful thing about my finals this semester is that 4 of 5 are open book & open note. So you can bring the book, and if you print every note you’ve taken this semester, you can bring that too! I had a summary or an outline prepped for each test. That outline would be right next to me just in case something slipped my mind (stick with me, I’m going somewhere lol). A couple of days ago, I had my Torts final. The day was moving along as expected, until I got to campus, and realized that I’d left my outline….at home….
My…my outline is at home. Oh shoot. My entire outline is at…..home. OH MY SWEET JESUS! CODE 10!!! STOP THE PRESS!! WE HAVE A TRAGEDY ON THIS DAY!!! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING BECAUSE THIS IS NOWHERE NEAR GOOD! My first reaction when I realized that I’d left my outline at home was to leave campus & go get it. That was shut down when I realized that the test started in 30 minutes & that I stay 15 minutes away from campus. Next solution: run upstairs to the library & print it! Issue #1: flash drive with updated outline is at home. Not the best circumstance, but I can get around it by just printing the one of my computer, right? WRONG! My computer took forever to load & to copy the first draft of my outline, so I’m running upstairs at 1:15 trying to print an outline for a test I have at 1:30. I get to the computer lab to print…and none of the computers want to let me log in. Finally find a computer that lets me log in….it doesn’t want to print my outline because Word Online apparently hated me too (random fact: It’s now 1:26, I’ve been working with this computer for a few minutes). At 1:29, I run downstairs because it’s better to take a test than it is to fail it because you didn’t show up on time, make it into the room at 1:30, grab my test, and try to remember how to breathe. Long(er) story short, I took the test…and I feel pretty good about it. How on earth is that possible? Well…..
It’s helpful to know what was happening in my spirit as you read about what was happening in my life. Sunday, my pastor read the scripture that says “for with God, nothing is impossible.” That wasn't the sole topic of his sermon, but I couldn’t get that scripture out of my head. So the next morning (day of my torts test), I hopped on Facebook, & reminded myself that “for with God, nothing is impossible,” and that today was the day that I got through 4 of 5. The amazing thing was that while I panicking and running up the stairs to print my outline, I kept hearing God say “for with God, nothing is impossible.” Now, I thought that was an indication that I’d print my outline, & be ok!…I was slightly wrong about that (lol). I never printed the outline, but I still came out alright, because I kept reminding myself that nothing means…nothing. That ‘nothing’ includes this test, with or without my outline. That ‘nothing’ includes this class. That ‘nothing’ includes me calming down enough to remember what I’d learned and what I’ve worked for. Every time I started to panic, I was reminded that “with God, nothing is impossible”, and that entire situation taught me something about the God I serve and the tests He allows that I want to share with you today.
God often requires us to prove something to Him in our lives. He loves our words, but I believe that He values our actions more. ‘Oh you love me? Keep my commandments.’ (John 14:15) ‘Ohhhhh y'all want to follow me? Put yourself to the side. Pick up this cross. Let’s take a walk.’ (Luke 9:23) He doesn’t value lip service over actual service. The issue with that is…some people offer more lip service than they do actual service. We can talk a big game in church. We can shout until they cut the lights off because we’re so caught up in the glory that we forgot to pay the light bill….but do our lives match the hype of the noise we make on Sunday? It’s one thing to say “God I trust you!”; it’s another thing to actually trust Him despite the madness that surrounds us. If I’d posted that status saying that nothing is impossible with God, and cried through that entire exam, or completely forgotten about God & tried to take that test in a panic without His peace, I’d be a hypocrite. I’d be saying one thing, and living to the contrary. That would prove that nothing is impossible with my lovely outline, or that nothing is impossible with God…if I give Him some assistance. There has to be a connection between what you say & what you do, because life will definitely test you on that. It wouldn’t make sense for you to say that God is your everything, and then walk away from Him when the material things of your life are taken. It wouldn’t make sense to declare “God I trust you!” on Sunday, and worry until you are literally sick Monday - Saturday (or as soon as benediction is given on Sunday). If you’re going to see the greatness of God in your life, it’s going to require that you go through some low moments. To really trust God is to trust Him in the dark and blurry times of our lives. God’s light won’t shine through on your brightest of days; it’ll only stand out in the darkness. You’re going to be tested, and those tests won’t always have an outline. You won’t always have a support system. I’ve suffered in silence a few times. I’ve had to take a few life tests without external support for various reasons, but it added to my substance because it forced me to align what I did with what I said or what I was singing.
I think that the tests that come in our lives serve as mirrors to show us what’s really inside. They put us face to face with the ugly truth: we don’t trust God as much as we should. We can say it. We can shout on it. But we don’t always stand on it. The ultimate goal for me would be to not even worry at all. Like, hell rises in my life and looks at me in the face, and I just look up to God & say “handle my lightweight please”, and skip along throughout my day without a care in the world (lol). Sadly, I’m not there yet, and I don’t know anybody who is, but that’s the purpose of the journey. The tests are there to increase our strength, and to show us what we’ve had all along. They’re there to force us to prove ourselves…to ourselves. God will require us to display our love for Him, and He’ll force us to prove ourselves, but the thing I like about God is that He never asks us to do something that He isn’t willing to do Himself (‘try me & see if I won’t open up the windows of Heaven for you’). I’ve received some of my greatest blessings as a result of me “reminding” God of what He said (like He actually forgot lol), and that I’ve always heard that He’s not a liar. It’s not a question of if God has forgotten who He is or what He said. It’s a question of if you’ve forgotten who He is or what He said. What do you really believe about God? Do you really believe at all? Can I see proof that you believe in your life, or will I just hear it?
When God allows the storms to come, it’s not just to prove ourselves to Him, or for Him to prove Himself to us, it’s to inform us of what we have inside of us. God never asks to do something that He hasn’t already equipped us to do. If you’ve got a burden, it’s because there’s something in you that only comes forth with a certain amount of pressure. I’m not going to stretch, and lift weights, and workout….to lift my bag. It doesn’t require that type of strength (though some of my friends would argue otherwise lol). I’m not going to spend 3 hours taking a 2nd grade math test, because it doesn’t require the critical thinking that I may need for a law school exam. Different traits are revealed at different levels of pressure. It’d be a mockery of you & the power that God has placed inside of you if God only allowed level 2 issues to test you when you’re on level 7. We don’t grow that way. We don’t advance that way. All that we’d get from that is a false sense of strength.
Every storm and every season has a purpose. You're in this storm or this season for a reason. Good season? Can you maintain the relationship like you did when hell was breaking loose? Bad season? Can you strengthen the relationship though hell is breaking loose? Are you full of lip service or actual service? It is not your job to find strength. God is your strength. He put it inside of you. It’s working for you every day that you wake up and decide to keep pushing. That is strength, suga. It takes courage to continually face the life that you live and weather it through every storm. The fact that you’re here, and that you’re reading this is a sign of the perseverance you have, I'm not saying that because it’s my blog or because I’m so special, but because you’ve survived yet another day or another week or something trying to tear you down. Throughout your entire life, something has tried to stop you. I don’t know where those things or people may be, but I know that you’re still alive, and if you’re still alive, they didn’t win. Even if it distracted you and took you off the path you were on, it didn’t take away your ability to start again, and be twice as good as you were the first time. You have everything you need to get through the issues you face. It is my prayer that with each day, you grow closer to being one of the strongest people you know, because if you don’t recognize your own strength, you won’t be able to use it. Recognize what you have, and what it’s taken for you to get this far. Did you come this far…to just come this far? No? Cool. So pair some ‘actual service’ with your lip service, and show the world that with God, nothing is impossible…
Background Music: Trust Me - Richard Smallwood
Words from the Author
At the end of the day, these posts are the thoughts that run through my mind. These are the lessons I've learned. The doors that I've walked through. The path I've chosen. This is part of what it means to be me. Hopefully, it'll help you be...you. Let's grow together, kay?
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