There is a scene in one of the Lord of the Rings movies in which the angelic and powerful Galadriel struggles with temptation to take and use the ring of power for her own. There is a frightening moment in which the filmmaker's special effects cause Galadriel's voice to become eerily amplified and demonic. As she imagines the power she would yield as possessor of the ring, her eyes blaze red and she grows in stature, transforming into a nightmarish creature looming over the little hobbit before her. At the last minute she chooses not to appropriate this terrible power for herself, and as she shrinks back down into "just Galadriel" says, "I have passed the test."
I watched this scene with my daughter, Melinda, who was not impressed with Galadriel's flirtation with evil. Melinda said in disgust, "Yes, she passed the test..but just barely!!!"
I was thinking this morning how often I have "just barely" passed a test the Lord has allowed me to face, and how graciously and skillfully He creates challenges custom tailored to my need to grow in faith and strength.
We aren't usually able to see God's hand in a situation that is painful until the trial is past, and this makes faith a necessity. I've lost count of the times I've had to remind myself, "Remember the way He's provided for you in the past, trust Him for the future!" Even so, I still struggle with worriment.
Due to budget cuts, I lost my position as a reading teacher due two years ago, and rather than be reassigned I chose to retire early to care for Mom (a strategy I felt forced into by circumstances but do not recommend for others; see the reading entitled "Don't Quit Your Day Job" in my My Mom Has Alzheimer's...). This morning at 3:00 a.m. I awoke, literally in a cold sweat. I came to the Lord in a panic and prayed, "We are farmers! We've had two drought years back to back! How are we going to cope financially? How will we survive?"
God was so gracious to me. Most times when I suffer this kind of panic I'm led to read Biblical accounts of His faithfulness to others and am able to pray through to peace that He will care for me just the same way. But this time He reminded me of a savings plan I initiated when I began teaching school years ago. A few minutes research revealed that in two months I will reach the minimum age to withdraw from that account without penalties. Then in about 3 years I will reach the minimum age to begin drawing Social Security. So I returned to bed feeling somewhat more peaceful about finances.
Sometimes the Lord asks us to trust Him and does not share with us the particulars of how His provision will arrive. It was this way when I quit my job; there was just this overwhelming knowledge that this is what God wanted me to do and I couldn't see the path before me. But once in awhile, in His great compassion for His frightened child, He will say, "There, there. Look. See how I've provided for you. Don't be afraid." That's what He did for me this morning and I'm grateful.
Fear has always been my Waterloo, and I'm not happy with myself about that. Fear is the antithesis of faith and dishonors the Lord. If you are reading this and thinking, "But I have no forgotten savings plan, no way of surviving but for God's grace," please be assured that His provision will meet your need as you trust in Him. Cry out to Him with your need and place your faith in Him. He won't let you down.
Scripture: "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. 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" (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3).