Stress Tests

I was recently visiting with one of our members who had just completed a stress test to see if there was anything wrong with his heart. If you’ve never had a stress test, then know that they strap you to this tread mill looking machine and then they turn it on with the intent of getting your heart to beat so fast it almost explodes. Well, maybe not that far, but I think when I had my stress test a few years ago they wanted to get my heart rate to 170 beats per minute. But because I was having trouble getting my heart rate to go that high, they kept putting more tension on the machine and they kept raising the incline. It wasn’t long before the muscles in my legs began to burn, I was gasping for air, my throat was parched, and my heart was pounding. I thought to myself, funny that they should try to kill me only to find out the condition of my heart. I began to wonder how they would explain to Vicki that they killed me when all they were doing was testing my heart. J
Hey, did you know that God is also in the business of doing stress tests in order to find out the condition of our hearts? Yes, Moses tells us about it in Deuteronomy 8. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
Did you notice the means and purpose of the test? “How the Lord led you all the way in the wilderness…causing you to hunger… to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
God’s stress tests most often involve leading us into desert experiences where everything is stripped away in order that we may acknowledge we are totally dependent on him. The expected outcome of God’s stress tests is that he would find humility and faith and gratitude in our hearts. The purpose of God’s discipline is to strip us of our pride in order to help us realize that he is our ultimate source of life.
As I was reflecting on the testimonies Wednesday night at our Thanksgiving service, I thought about how each person shared how, through their “stress test,” they were humbled and how they learned to depend on the spoken word of God. God doesn’t want us to find our identity in our jobs, in our own strength, in our children, or in our wealth. God took each one of them into a wilderness experience in order to test their hearts. And I praise God for how each one of them is passing the test.
I would encourage you to read the rest of Deuteronomy 8 (you’ll also find peace for your financial situation). And may it be said of us that we are a people who have passed the test; a people who, out of the overflow of a healthy heart, walk and talk with humility as we live a life of gratitude and obedience in response to God’s love for us.
Grace and peace to you, Mike

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