This week I took the final for New Testament Survey. It is the first final I have taken in over 31 years! I enjoyed taking the class and I learned more than you want to hear me tell. I actually was surprised how little I knew about the New Testament, not necessarily the scripture, but the context, the writers, and their purposes. It seems there were actual real people whose world had been turned upside down by the Savior-Messiah Jesus and they needed these Holy Spirit inspired letters to help them figure out their lives. And then those people turned their world upside down for Him! (Acts 17:6)
Another thing I learned in taking the final was how stubborn I can be, how unwilling I am to give up on my own way and listen to God. I remind me of the lyrics from a Rich Mullins song: “I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want, than to take what you give that I need.” (Hold Me Jesus)
I was given a list of what to study to prepare for the final. It was a long list and it was specific. I thought it was a bit unreasonable. I mean, really? Memorize the outline for every book in the New Testament? Know the purpose, place and year every book was written, as well as where it was written from? Really? Did he really think I should know about the Intertestamental Period and the effects on the New Testament? The study guide told me that yes, Dr. Stanley did think that I should know all of those things–and know them very well.
And although it was in front of my face, in black and white, I didn’t really believe it. I convinced myself that the professor really couldn’t expect me to know all of those details and keep them straight in my mind. So I didn’t memorize everything he listed. I decided what I thought was important and reviewed the rest. I reviewed it well, but I did not commit it to memory–no total recall here!
Then I opened the test (online–who could have imagined that 31 years ago when I last took a final?) all of the things he told me would be on the test were there. So I took it (all 131 questions) and my grade wasn’t as good as it should have been. After all, I’d been given a list of what to know and I didn’t know it–all. So, the next time I take a final (I think I have to take a class next fall or possibly even over the summer) I plan on studying the right stuff and not just part of it–ALL of it. I don’t like the feeling of not doing my best.
I wonder if when I go and stand before God, if I’ll have the same feeling I did when I looked at the results of the final. I don’t want those to be the tears He wipes from my eyes. I don’t fear for my salvation, but I hope I bring Him joy. You see, I don’t think God is playing games with me, I have His Word that tells me what He expects of me. Yet so often, out of my own willful disobedience, my choices, I neglect His list. I do my own thing or I do the wrong thing, or I don’t do the right thing that I know I should do. I want to be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I want to run to win!