I have found that God always tests us on what we say we believe, so that we can iron out our wrinkles….if we only will.
I remember when I learned this lesson, very clearly. My husband and I were going through a rough patch. And of course I thought it was all his fault! I had been praying for our marriage for weeks. And my prayer was even ‘noble’….I prayed that my husband would be more spiritual….that he would spend more time with the Lord…..like I did.  God just didn’t seem to be listening!  My husband’s heart seemed to be hardened against the Lord’s calling! 
Then, one Sunday after church, we went to a restaurant with our 4 little children. It was mostly empty, except for a filthy man sitting in the corner.  The host sat us right next to him! He smelled really, really badly! And right away he hit us up for some money. My husband said he would be glad to buy him a meal, but didn’t want to give him money. The man said, “listen, honestly, I am a ‘shoot and blow’, I do drugs, and I need the money for drugs”…….well! I jumped up with my children and went to find the manager, to get this guy thrown out! The manager was busy, and I waited on the other side of the restaurant for him to come out. In the meantime, I stood, in my church clothes, and railed on and on to the waitress; urged her to call the cops, and explained to her that he was driving away business….the man could have a gun and try to rob us, and her! I waited about 10 minutes, and then decided that I should go check on my husband….after placing my children at a booth far, far away.
When I returned, I found my husband sitting right next to the man, praying with him. With tears streaming down, leaving white streaks through the dirt on his cheeks..the drug addict looked up and told me, “THIS IS A GOOD MAN!”….While I wanted the man led out the door, my husband led him to Jesus Christ! While I wanted to get away from the man, my husband gave him our phone number! God said to me, I heard his voice loud and clear, say, ‘who is REALLY more spiritual?”….I knew it wasn’t me! It was ME who needed the work in the marriage!
I was tested, and found to need more refining by fire.
My own beloved oldest daughter became just like that man. She became a filthy drug addict, who lived on the street and begged for money. It is a long, long story…which does not yet have a happy ending. The Lord is still working this out, but I know He will have victory, one day.
But, I just have to tell you one more story, about people having their beliefs tested; to see if they really are willing to live out what they say….
About 3 years ago, my daughter ended up in jail, 600 miles from home. It was the first time she was in jail, and when I actually found out about how serious her problems were. My husband was in Iraq at the time. I had 3 other children at home, who I could not leave. We would not post her bail. We knew she would just jump bail, and we might never see her again. But, we wanted her to know that like Jesus Christ, we hate her sin, but love her. We wanted her to turn to the Jesus she had accepted as a child; and to see the Love of Jesus was always there. And so, since I could not be there to physically visit her; I emailed 5 churches in the area where she was; to see if anyone would be willing to visit my drug addicted daughter in jail. It is one of the things Jesus told us to do, isn’t it? Out of the five, only one church even responded. Three people volunteered to visit her. They wrote me and said they would, although the pastor sent me a questionnaire on her history, before he would go visit her.
None of those people actually visited my daughter–ever.
I called my pastor for help and support. I had never called a pastor before. His answering machine picked up. He never returned my call. I received a letter in my “snail mail”….that I was suppose to call my deacon for such emergencies.
I was asking for help, like the man in the restaurant. And just like I had done to him, I was being met by people who wanted me to go away. They didn’t want to be bothered.
But, 2 weeks later, I got an email from a friend of the church secretary, in the town where my daughter was serving time in jail. She wrote to me,AFTER she had visited my daughter! She had heard about my daughter from her friend, and decided to visit her. She brought my daughter gifts, even though she didn’t have much money herself. She ended up visiting my daughter, witnessing to her 3 days a week, for 2 months, until my daughter got out of jail.
What a wonderful witness this was to my daughter….and to all of us, her family. Phone calls from jail are expensive, and snail mail takes a long time. I can not over emphasize how much this woman’s reports to us about our daughter, meant to us! This witness of Jesus’s love in action, by a middle aged woman, living in public housing, was one of the most important lessons of our lives.  My daughter said that she could not believe that a person who did not even know her, would go to all the trouble that it is to visit someone in jail—and that it HAD to be Jesus who would enable a person to do this. 
This little lady ministered to the body of Christ better than any amount of money, meals, flowers , cards or a well presented sermon ever could. Personal, relational contact is what we need. It is what God did when He became a man, isn’t it?
This lady was tested, and she didn’t need to go back into the fire…
Be like her; not like me. Hang on to what you believe, and live it out.