December 16, 2010 | 01:16 pm

Thursday – Putting God to the Test

As a child, I remember lying in bed many a night wondering if there really was a God. Using the logic of a pre-pubescent boy, I thought of a way to find out. For several nights I had a very specific plea in my evening prayers, which went something like this: “God, if you are really there, let there be a brand new Schwinn Sting-Ray in our garage (I really, really wanted one!) If you do this, I promise I will never doubt you again.” I’m sad to report, and you know the answer, a bicycle never appeared. It’s not how things work with God. In Isaiah, there is similar scene, but this time the prophet Isaiah is encouraging a man named Ahaz to test God. Isaiah says to ask for any sign Ahaz wants, to which Ahaz responds, “I will not put the Lord to the test” (7:12). In one sense this sounds a very pious answer. But in this context it was not. Ahaz was King of Judah, and his rule and domain were under great threat. His unwillingness to test God represented a lack of faith in something larger than himself. While it’s true that asking for a Schwinn is not the way to prove God is near, it doesn’t mean that we can’t lean on God when in need. When we are at the end of our rope, as Ahaz was, calling upon God to give us hope and a new direction may be the very test we need to put before God.