Tomorrow seems like a significant day for our son, Micah. On Monday, he begins a three-week test of fortitude. Micah has been assigned seventeen exams. Yep, that’s right. Seventeen one and a half hour to two hour sessions of test-taking which will attempt to demonstrate his knowledge and mastery of nine different subject areas.
When I first surveyed the exam schedule, I confess I was taken aback by it all. Seventeen exams? Isn’t that a bit much for a fourteen year-old kid? Since these exams will represent 80% of Micah’s grades this term, I wondered how one testing period x 17 could really capture Micah’s abilities and understanding. For the next three weeks, Micah is going to need to pull up and play his “A” game for each and every examination. That’s pressure!
As I have observed and interacted with Micah during his test preparations, I haven’t heard him complain once. If anything, he’s accepted the challenge and has decided to do his best.
Is he nervous? Yes.
Does he feel like he has everything mastered? No.
On the eve of this examination juggernaut, though, Micah is ready to go to work.
He’s ready to give it his best shot.
As I have prayed about this time and contemplated the many life lessons that have surfaced for our son, I am more at peace about it all. This is an opportunity for Micah to embrace a difficult challenge and see it through regardless of the outcome. For reasons we do not completely comprehend, Micah has seventeen exams to complete in a certain period of time. Our God has ordained it. Over the course of his preparations, Micah has grown in peace, contentment and confidence to do this work.
It says in Scripture:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to rejoice and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil and labor—this is the gift of God. (New International Version, Ecclesiastes 3:11-13)
We only see what is present and looming in the near future. For Micah Man, it’s seventeen exams. However, before he knows it, one exam after another after another after another will be completed and he’ll be all done.
As I contemplate the words of Solomon that say that my God makes all things beautiful in its time, I must acknowledge that I do not see the beginning from the end, nor the end from the beginning with Micah’s tests. Right now, I only see the middle. However, my God sees the start, the middle and the end of all things. He knows how everything has come into play to prepare Micah for this particular moment. In addition, although I am writing about this and considering my role, ultimately, this is Micah Man’s deal. This is his work to fulfill from start to end. And our God has indicated that this work is a gift to Micah from Him.
When we frame the exams as a gift from God, as the work that He has ordained for Micah at this time, how can we not be content? Micah has been given the gift of an education; a gift that some have been denied, a gift that some have had stolen, and a gift that some have even been attacked and killed for in recent months. It’s all about perspective and attitude. We can rejoice in this gift of work. Micah can do his best, offer encouragement to his classmates, and exhibit an attitude of contentment as he takes each exam in the presence of his God and with the help of his Savior. If Micah does that over the course of the next three weeks, he will be satisfied and blessed indeed…no matter what the test results show…he’ll have worked through, rejoiced in and been content with his efforts.
It doesn’t begin tomorrow.
Micah’s story began actually fourteen+ years ago. These seventeen exams are only a small part of his continuing life journey. Though these exams figure large in Micah’s mind at present, in three weeks’ time, they will become another story to tell. And believe me, when the last of the seventeen exams are completed, there will be a party with pumpkin pie no less!