Not A Test To Pass, But A Gift To Receive – September 8, 2022 (265-266/365)

This was originally for some Junior and Senior High students, but halfway through it I sort of lost traction. It’s one of those articles, one of those pieces where the introduction seemed so sweet but the follow-through… well, leaves a lot to be desired. I’m still thinking on whether I should take this route or not.

I don’t know how it is in your part of this dusty planet but here, for some professions, it’s not enough for you to have a bachelor’s degree. For aspiring lawyers, there’s the Bar exam. For graduates of courses related to education, there’s a Board exam. I think there’s a Board exam for all fields concerning engineering as well.

I’m just thankful that there isn’t any sort of nationwide exam for graduates of courses concerning computers and stuff like that. Sure, we had certifications for Microsoft and Oracle (the latter of which I still want to get after all these years), but there were a whole bunch of jobs we could land, even without said add-ons to our resumes.

Not so, for the professions I mentioned – You wanted to go anywhere near a court to serve as a lawyer, you had to pass the Bar. And for companies and schools to take you really seriously, you needed to pass the associated Board exam. Back in college we were all pretty chill – I mean, my high school batchmates who ended up taking engineering or education, well, we all saw each other at events and caught up, schooling like we thought schooling was. I didn’t see much of them directly after I graduated, but I could imagine, they weren’t as calm and collected as they faced the consequent Board/Bar exams.

My point is, College seemed easy but it seemed like the Board had such a greater weight. I have a niece who was pretty chill her whole time in college as she was studying to be a Pharmacist, but she suddenly got all serious and twitchy when the next hurdle she had to jump was the Board exam. She was nervous before the exam, she was sad after the exam because she didn’t think she did a good job. She was devastated when word finally came out that she failed, and then she was nervous AGAIN before she took the Board a second time. Sadly, she failed that one too.

I mean, imagine our having to be there to minister to her and to comfort and encourage her. It wasn’t as easy. In her mind she was feeling pretty overwhelmed the entire time. There was a time I thought that she was just too focused on how hard the exam was. Mom and I also kept telling her to pray, just as we were praying with her, and it came to a point that, yes, we had to just help her out by way of teaching her what to declare – I mean, she was crying on her own, and she was saying stuff like she was definitely going to fail, especially the second time around. Mom was telling her to speak out she would pass, while I was the one who told her to just stop saying she’d fail.

I thought that she was intimidated… and then I saw how, apparently, everyone else who’s had to face the Board, or the Bar – well, they had the same dread and fear in their own hearts. It’s that big of a deal to them, or at least that’s the prevalent mindset.

I go through all this only to say that these exams are just that intimidating, that those who would take said exams would go BEYOND plain studying and reviewing and proper preparation – no, folks, there are actual sites and posts online of superstitious acts that everyone takes to ensure that they pass.

I’ve heard that parents don’t allow their children who are about to take the exam to go out of town for vacation before the exam, because (1) it’s general bad luck for the exam taker – perhaps something to the lines of them leaving whatever they’ve learned wherever they go, and (2) there’s the supposed increased chance that they may not make it back on time.

Graduates can take a bath or shower on the day of the exam itself, BUT they aren’t supposed to wash their hair, because you might wash off the knowledge and experience you’ve learned in preparation.

If they’re afraid of losing luck, they also try to bring luck into the exams by wearing something red. This might be a little difficult for certain exams that also have a dress code, so exam takers resort to wearing red bracelets, headbands, putting on a red cellphone cover – ANYTHING to bring red, and to bring luck into the exam. And here’s the thing, if they don’t have any red to wear, some people resort to putting a coin on your right shoe – in addition to bringing good luck, the coin is supposed to help you avoid being nervous.

As you enter the examination room, make sure to step in with your right foot, to make your answers right. Before you take the exam, knock on wood three times – and MAKE SURE you aren’t knocking on metal, but wood – for good luck. When you’re done with your exam, you’re supposed to kick your chair – that’s supposed to mean that you aren’t coming back to take the exam again. And don’t look back! Look straight ahead because if you take even the smallest glance back, boom – there go your chances. Finally, when you’re out, don’t forget to break your pencil to avoid the failing.

Crazy, right? By the way, I forgot to mention earlier that some graduates eat nuts – and I’m all for that, because nuts are really good for the brain.

These Board and Bar exams have taught me of our tendencies as human beings.

We tend to cram. That is, we only study hard, and we only practice really hard when we need to.

We tend to move towards the superstitious. If we’re totally convinced that something weird would increase our chances, then we’d do it without question.

Let me have you guys think of something. You guys may be where you are right now, with the Board exams or the Bar exams so far away from you, and you may think, this may never apply to me, or this will take time before I see it in my own life. Or, take me for example – I may be way past these exams myself, without having any need to take them.

But here’s the thing – the world would have you realize that you need to work hard to prove yourself, or that you need to go through all sorts of rituals for you to have some sort of peace, and for you to feel loved in this world. Sure, we can all fall trap to this sort of mindset, no matter how old or young we are… but I have bad news and good news for you.

First, the bad news. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I believe I spoke on this before – you don’t have to sin to be a sinner, but Adam sinned, and therefore as descendants of Adam you’ve been infected with the same sin. So, no matter what you do, no matter what your intentions are, you will always fall short of the glory of God. Try as hard as you can on your own to behave, try as hard as you can on your own to stay away from doing something bad, but you will fall short of the glory of God. Try praying really hard, or try singing really hard, or try to memorize the Bible… you will still fall short of the glory of God, if you try to be holy on your own.

But here comes the good news. Remember I only mentioned Romans 3:23, but it was part of a larger sentence. Let’s read what the Word has for us in Romans 3:23-24 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Folks, my point here is that if we’re trying on our own to get God to notice us, much more to love us, then we will always fall short. But here’s the thing – God knew that, so He sent Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to justify us. What does this mean? It means that He not only took our sins, but He BECAME our sin, so that we would become His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ was the One who worked hard, and He was the One who gave Himself up as a sacrifice, just so that we could come to God again, run to His throne, not only calling Him King, but our Heavenly Father!

I can confidently tell you now that you are loved by God, and it’s not because of some ritual you did, or something you worked hard on; No, you are so loved by God, and He showed it by sending His only Son to work hard and to offer Himself up as a ritual sacrifice, just so you and God could enjoy each other!

So now that you know that you are loved by God, and that you and Him can never be separated because of what Christ has done, what’s left for you to do? Well, let’s go back to the Word – it says that you are ‘justified by His grace as a gift’.

During college, we weren’t very overflowing with cash… but every once in a while, a friend would have some extra money, and would treat us to lunch. This one time there were 3 of us who went out, and I knew I didn’t have money, and I knew my friend was treating… but, I guess to sort of make her feel better or just to say something, I told her I’d pay her back. She was immediately offended by what I said, and seeing my confusion my other friend cleared things out – she said that she was treating, and it was all on her. To offer to pay her back meant to dishonor her effort to treat us.

Folks, what do you do when someone gives you a gift? I get it, nowadays we’d think twice, and we’d think that there are strings attached to the gift. People would give other people gifts to ask for a favor. People would give other people gifts as a prelude to outright scamming them. But let me tell you something – When God gives you a gift, you don’t have to think twice.

This is the Creator of the Universe who knows all there is to know about you. He knows all the words you say, all the words you think, all the words you will say. He knows all the possibilities of your life, and He knows all that you can be, or the worst you can become… and in spite of all this, it is in His heart to give His only Son, to take your sin and the death you deserved, just so that you would be right with God, and so you would enjoy real life with Him. When God gives you a gift, friends, you can trust Him. You can receive it.

Did you want to receive it? Is there a hard thing you need to do, or a special word to say for you to receive it? Friends, if you want to receive it, let me guide you. You don’t need to say the exact words, you don’t even have to say them out loud, but if you want it, then I want it with you.

‘Dear God, Today I choose to believe that You sent Your Son Jesus Christ. He was born and He gave His life for me to know that even if I was a sinner, You loved me. I believe that He rose again, and nothing can ever separate me from Your love. Jesus, I receive You. Come into my heart, come into my life. Amen.’

Now I was pretty iffy about all of this because I don’t think all of the kids are free to make that choice. And I don’t know if this communicates to them. I do have a couple more hours left before I speak… But this is what I have for now.

I know I haven’t been writing, but trust me, I’m doing a lot, and I can’t wait to put it all into writing. Till the next post, God bless you.

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