I always learn something at my in-laws. Gail and I have been married for thirty-four years and we’ve spent many hours at the Nevel farm near Altoona, Pennsylvania. One could not ask for better in-laws. They have shown me and my family uncompromising love and kindness, all of these years.
Mom is an avid reader and really smart. I don’t play family games with her that requires intelligence. She always wins. She is not only knowledgeable, but also wise. Last evening, she shared a bit of wisdom from a book she’d read. I’ve never heard this truth and it impacted me deeply.
“During a test, the teacher is always quiet.” I didn’t hear much of the discussion after those words left her mouth.
God has been quiet since December 16th. I am trying to listen. I’m looking for signs. I think I’m open to His voice. But it’s quiet. I’m not saying that God is not working, or that I have seen nothing of His work in the past month. I have seen Divine signs at various junctions along this path. But I’d love to hear a mighty, “I’m here! I’m behind you! I’m ahead of you! I’m listening! I’m going to say, ‘Yes,’ all in good time.”
I know, I know, He’s said all of those things multiple times in His Word. I believe His Word, and I know many of those admonitions by heart. But sometimes those promises seem like only words on a page right now. I would like to hear the Teacher speak, out loud, in an audible voice, or at least with some action that is so impressive that it will lift my spirits and confidence to new heights.
I don’t expect this to happen. But I’ve never heard it explained so well. During the test, the teacher is quiet. I would think some of you reading this have experienced something similar. Perhaps you understand.
So my mind went to my memories of the classroom. Tests were the most quiet class sessions. And then there were pop-quizzes. When the teacher announced a pop-quiz, there was first a communal moan, followed by an hour or so of silence that could be cut with a knife. All the while, the teacher is quiet.
But the teacher is still there, present in the room. He never left. And a good teacher did not give the test or the quiz simply to flex his authority muscles or receive the joy of twenty-five bright red “F's” on student papers. If that were the case, it would only mean that he was not an effective teacher. On many occasions, a bad grade is as much the teacher’s fault as it is the student’s fault. A good teacher gives a test for a very good reason. Tests help students in many ways. Knowledge is coalesced and processed. A good test shows a student how far they’ve come and gives them confidence that they can go further. If the test is right, it draws students closer to their teacher. In fact, most good students remember and appreciate their most demanding teachers. Teachers know that tests are necessary.
Gail and I are in a test. I don’t know if God orchestrated it. I don’t know why He has allowed it. I don’t know what He expects to happen through it – except that I sense two realities deeply. The Teacher has not left the room. God is with us. I’ve never experienced the message of Christmas as I did this year. Emmanuel- God is with us, even though He is a Quiet Presence. Secondly, I am learning things, deep things, from this test. This test, just like any test, is helping me to process years of training, study, and experience with God as my Teacher. I am maturing. I have some kind of deep confidence that Gail and I will come through this experience closer to God, more Godly people, and more mature as human beings. I am certain that we are already more compassionate people. Jesus was a compassionate person.
But for right now Teacher, any time You would like to speak audibly, I am listening.