“This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System… If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions. This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.”
Do you remember those tests? Unless you have a NOAA radio, you probably don’t hear that type of announcement much. It used to be common.
Today, schools still have fire drills. Some probably have tornado drills. Most have lockdown drills! These drills or tests prepare people by having them go through the steps they would need to do in the event of a real emergency.
I know it’s pretty clear in scripture but I have resisted the idea that God tests or puts us through drills… until recently.
We moved from Ohio to Texas last summer – over 1100 miles from a neighborhood we loved and a church family we had grown with tremendously. This isn’t the first time we moved. In 1996, we moved from Kentucky to Georgia. In 1998, Georgia to Ohio. In 2000, back to Kentucky. In 2005, back to Ohio. Now we live west of the Mississippi in “a whole other country.” (That’s Texas for those who haven’t lived here.)
This has been, by far, the most difficult move. For the past year I thought the greatest difficulty was because of moving with teenagers and watching them hurt through the separation of friends. The other difficulty I knew was leaving friends who I connected with regularly to listen to God for each other. There, I knew the options, the places I could plug in. It wasn’t perfect but it was comfortable.
In our various moves, we have light-heartedly talked about which ones were “God-moves” and the one that was definitely not a God-move. That experience was significant in the choice for this last and farthest move. In the past couple of months, I’ve questioned whether this was a God-move. I’ve tried to hold on to the promises we heard from God. It’s been difficult because it doesn’t look like what I thought God promised. I’ve probably sounded a bit like the Israelites.
Exodus 16:3 “The Israelites said to [Moses and Aaron], ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’
But God had a plan: an intentional plan even for their difficult times.
“Then the Lord said… I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
“When the Israelites saw [the thin flakes], they said to each other, ‘What is it?’
“Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.’”
Why would God test them? God’s kingdom is about his plan. His complete and untainted good which comes only when he is in complete control.
Yes, he does test us or maybe it sounds better to you to think of it as a drill. This drill is a little different than the emergency drills in schools. It will help us in difficult times but it is also designed to give us a taste of his perfect kingdom where everyone in that kingdom will be joyfully and perfectly submitted to his ways.
Are you having doubts of faith right now? Listen for the message following the Attention Signal of your doubts. Is it a test or a real emergency? If it’s an emergency, you have been prepared. If it’s a test, you are being prepared. The Promise Land is when we are perfectly hearing and obeying God. That day is coming and it won’t be terrifying for those who are prepared.
I could say a lot more about that passage in Exodus 16. If you are wanting to go back to something you think was more comfortable, I suggest you spend some time reading about the Israelites journey out of Egypt and let the Holy Spirit reveal God’s message for you.