How to Ace Your Most Important Test
Let’s start our time together by asking for a quick show of hands from those who really enjoy taking tests. Anybody have a hand up? For many of us, test taking ranks somewhere near the bottom of enjoyable experiences from school—even lower than Mystery Meat Monday and rope climbing day in P.E.
Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of the test is not torture. The purpose of the test is to gauge your understanding based on the answers you give. Your answers will determine your score (and your grades for the semester and whether or not you’re going to be grounded).
The hardest test I ever took was a standardized test known as the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). One of the most interesting components of the GMAT is that the most difficult questions are asked first. The final score will be largely determined by the way you answer the first few questions. In other words, if you answer the first question wrong, your score will be limited to a certain threshold. By design, this creates a very real need to answer the first question right.
In comparison, your life as a student is filled with difficult tests and questions. The pressure is as real as any standardized test, but the results are much further reaching. There are thresholds and ceilings created in your life based on how you answer some of your very first questions.
So, what are the questions? Here are some of the biggest questions that must be answered in our lives: what is God calling us to be? Where will we go? Who will we be with?
The real challenge in answering these questions is answering them in order. Remember from the GMAT example, the scoring level is determined from the beginning. Before we can answer questions two and three, we must be willing to seek the Lord until we have an answer to question one.
What is God calling us to be? If we answer this question correctly, it will eliminate some of the wrong answer choices for questions two and three. The challenge is answering the questions in order. Sometimes we can think we have the answers to “where will I go?” and “who will I be with?” long before we get a clear answer to “what is God calling me to be?”
We start working on the answers to questions two and three in junior high or high school. “Where will we go” has us daydreaming of the day we will be on our own. We start picking out college locations based on what the school can offer us. What does the surrounding area offer us?
And we can really rush the answer “who will we be with?” We feel the pressure to find a crush and see how fast we can turn a crush into the person behind the date listed in our social media bios with the caption “TAKEN.” Since Hallmark doesn’t print the “Happy Two Week Anniversary” cards yet, we create a photo collage and caption it with words that our parents didn’t say until they celebrated an honest to goodness one year anniversary of marriage.
Just because that college has an amazing campus and impressive reputation doesn’t mean it’s where you are supposed to go. Just because your name and her name combined makes a great hashtag, and you’re pretty sure she’s your forever girl after two weeks—because that’s what you posted—doesn’t mean she’s the answer to the question.
The hardest part about answering question one correctly is that the answer comes from someone other than us. Psalm 130:5 reads, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His Word I do hope” (italics mine).
Wait for God to give you the answer to question one. He will. Jeremiah 29:11 lets you know that He already has plans for you. If you can wait on God to answer question one, I can assure you He will have plenty to say on where you will go and who you will be with. After all, Psalm 37:23 tells us, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”
Answering question one correctly unlocks the full potential we have in Christ. Answering the questions out of order limits us.
Josh and Shelly Youngblood, currently serve as full time assistant pastor/student pastor at Life Tabernacle in Wichita Falls, Texas. They also serve on the youth team for the North Texas District of the UPCI.