This is only a test

Published 4:42 am Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It’s funny how many times life seems to be four steps forward and two steps back. Last week I was reminded of this concept in my spiritual life. The topic for my ladies life group is, “Are you growing.” Each week, I enjoy the leader’s carefully prepared Bible lesson on some aspect of this principle.

This isn’t a bunch of women expounding on their rise to perfection. We are all real women with bumps and bruises to prove it. Sadly, three of the ladies in our group are healing from broken marriages. My point is we do our best to support and encourage one another, no matter what we may be facing.

Our weekly lessons have kept me more focused on areas in my life that may have become stagnant. In those areas I have been trying to stir up the waters and get the blockages out so that the Holy Spirit can flow freely in that part of my life. I feel this must be a constant in the believer’s life. None of us ever fully arrive, although I guess a few get pretty close.

I don’t have a problem discussing my faults, and asking for prayer when I become aware of a problem area. I also know areas where I feel strong and sure. Just last week I somehow uttered the words that I hated gossip, and it wasn’t a problem for me.

This week, I sat visiting with a bunch of ladies and the conversation started to take an uncomfortable turn. Instead of following that gentle whisper that I should excuse myself to the ladies room or get up for a drink I listened attentively and actually found myself nodding in agreement. The words spoken were true, but unkind.

After the otherwise fun filled evening, my conscience bothered me. Why did I just sit there and give my approval to gossip? Short answer is I wanted to fit in. Does that sound like an answer from high school or what?

This little conversation helped me to realize that I must be vigilant to make the right decisions even when it is uncomfortable. I’m sure I’ll never be at the point where I get it right every time, but I want to keep striving to be that person.

Today at Walmart, I had to go from the service desk to the check out to the service desk again all to get one little thing corrected. I was tempted to lose my patience, but I caught myself and smiled at the clerk instead. I remembered the gossip incident and heard the old radio announcement in my head … this is a test; this is only a test.

When I finally had my car loaded with my purchases, a young man in the garden center smiled warmly and said, “You have a blessed day, Ma’am.” In that moment, I was so glad that at least for today I had passed the test.

“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests their hearts” (NKJV Proverbs 17:3).

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at