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Test Day

Posted Friday, August 3, 2012, at 5:10 PM

"Achievement Test Day! Why did today, of all days of the years, have to be test day? It's bad enough to have to sit and take tests all day, but TODAY?! It's my birthday! I mean come on, it's my 16th birthday. As soon as these stupid tests are over I can still make it to the license bureau before they close, take a test--I really dislike that term--and drive to school tomorrow. I know I'll have to drive dad's car, but it isn't so bad--maybe I can borrow the Buick, at least it has a good radio. I just have to get through these tests . . . as if I care who sits on a train going west at 60 miles per hour and another train is going east at 45, when would they meet . . . it sure is hot in here . . .."

So her thoughts rambled throughout the morning. It was finally the day she could take her test and get her license. However as her day progressed her thoughts were more and more difficult to keep together. The distractions swirled about her so that she could barely think. She found her head on the desk and had to shake herself awake. Finally it was time for lunch--a break from the tests that were torturing her. Walking down the stairs to the cafeteria she was trying to make her way through the sea of bodies going up and down the stairs when someone bumped into her.

"Sorry, didn't see you," said her teacher.

"Funny one Miss S," she replied as she reached down to pat the head of her teacher's guide dog.

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Oh, these tests! I hate taking achievements tests. They get me all confused. Um. we're blocking traffic. I'll talk to you later."

"Wait, I'm coming back down with you; you feel hot."

"It was stuffy in the room."

"I don't think so," her teacher said as she took her by the arm and went with her back down the stairs, "let's step into the nurse's office for a moment."

"I'm fine; just hot and sleepy . . . really."

"Humor me, okay?"

The nurse, of course, was in . . . and agreed that she felt hot. Out came the thermometer and the results . . . 103. They called her mom. She got out of her tests, but had to go to the doctor. As it turned out she was a very sick girl--pneumonia in both lungs. After shots, and other medicines, she got to go home and climb into bed.

Her mom stayed with her, putting cold, damp cloths on her head. She was so weak that she rarely knew who was near her, but felt the love of their care. Sometimes she would wake and see her dad, or grandma, or friends, but mostly she slept. It was several days before she really woke up for any length of time--when she realized she had missed her test day--her driver's test.

Finally, weeks after her birthday, she was strong enough to return to school. However, her parents indulged her in going in late for one special reason. They let her go take her test. She passed! They even let her drive the Buick to school on her first day back. She was so excited; she had really passed every teenager's rite of passage--her driver's license test. To thank her teacher, she gave her (and her guide dog) rides to the store or school or wherever she wanted to go. It was the least she could do to repay her teacher/friend.

We often find ourselves so focused upon a specific achievement that we overlook other aspects of our lives. We chaff at doing what is required of us because we are so focused upon our personal goal. That goal, object, becomes our complete focus and we ignore what else is going on around us. Overlooking or ignoring basic signs/symptoms we can injure ourselves in our single focused walk through life.

How often do we find ourselves "bumping" into another person who needs our help, but rather than giving the time or provide the need, do we instead walk on and ignore the one who needs our help? How often have we felt the desperate need for just "a cup of water" and no one has helped? We walk through our days focused upon what we want, what we are going to get, wrapped up in our wants/desires and don't recognize that we are ill and need someone to touch us with care and healing.

For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you [b]brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and [c]lodged Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me [d]with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [[e]in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me (Matthew 25:36-40 Amplified Bible)

Perhaps our true test is not the one we think we are taking, but rather how we care for those around us.

God, we ask you to clear our minds of the incessant voice of want and desire. Instead open our ears, eyes, and hearts to the needs of those around us. Help us to take the time to care for our brothers and sisters. Help us to learn to see, hear, and touch through your heart of love. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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