Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

"I hate those pop tests. You never know they're coming so you can't get ready for them," Julie said.
"Tests are good for us you know. They show what we really know without help. And after all, God gives pop tests all the time."

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#62- Making a Desert

A Character story about patience.

"Hi, Sissy," Mr. Jensen greeted as he arrived home from work. "How did things go at school today?"
"Oh, O.K. I guess," Julie shrugged.
"It doesn't sound like it. Anything the matter?"
"Nah. I just hate tests and we have two more this week. And today we had a pop test in history. I hate those pop tests. You never know they're coming so you can't get ready for them."
"But if you're always ready, it won't matter if you have a test or not. Right?" Mr. Jensen prodded.
"You sound just like my teacher. Why do we have to have tests at all? Why can't she give us a grade on just our daily work?"
"Well," Mr. Jensen began as he removed his coat, "tests are good for us you know. They show what we really know without help. And after all, God gives pop tests all the time."
"He does?" Julie said in surprise.
"Sure. God teaches us new things from the Bible through our own reading, family reading, or from church or Sunday school. Then He gives us opportunities to put these new truths into practice. If we fail to see how they apply, then we failed the test, and did not really learn the lesson."
"I don't remember that happening to me, "Julie remarked.
"How about last summer when we learned about the Wood duck and then God tested your willingness to obey what we said. And last week we read Ephesians 4:32 in the morning- 'and be ye kind one to another . . .' and before you left the house, you and Jason were fighting about who would get into the washroom first. Each of these were tests- opportunities to apply in your life what you learned in your head."
" Oh. I see what you mean. Maybe if I didn't read the Bible as much, God wouldn't give me as many tests either."
Mr. Jensen smiled. "Now, Sissy, if you didn't read your books for school, would that mean you would have fewer tests?"
"No, it would mean I'd have more F's."
"That's right. God too wants us to know His ways. And tests show us what we really know, and what is only in our heads. The Arabs have a proverb that goes like this: 'All sun and no rain makes a desert.' Do you know what that means?" Julie shook her head. "It means that joy in life comes from a combination of blessings and trials, of lessons and tests. To have all tests would make us discouraged, and to have only blessings would make us soft. After all, why learn it, if you never have to use it?"
"Hmmm. Well, maybe . . ."
"Do you remember how many people we saw who traveled to Arizona in the winter to avoid the snow and cold and winter storms?" Julie nodded. "I suppose we're all somewhat like that when it comes to the 'storms of life.' We want to avoid them. But God knows we need some trials to keep us alert spiritually. Let me illustrate with some things I've been reading lately about deserts. Most deserts are so dry that the air has no moisture to protect from the sun's heat in the day, and to hold in the heat at night. So the desert can reach 130 degrees in the day, and then drop to 35 degrees at night."
"Really?! That's. . . um . . . 95 degrees change in one day."
"You're right. Deserts are places of great extremes. For ten years it could be dry without a drop of rain and then suddenly have a flood!"
"A flood? How could it flood with all that sand? It seems like the water would just soak in."
"It's true that the desert has a lot of sand. In fact the dunes pile up in low places, sometimes to a height of 300 feet! And they don't move either. Experts can use these dunes as signposts while travelling through the desert because maps of them made a hundred years ago are still accurate today. But actually, only 10% of the desert is made up of sand. The rest is rocks and gravel. A heavy rain can wash right over it, causing a flood."
"Huh." Julie thought a minute. "You know, that's just how I felt this week- flooded with tests."
Mr. Jensen laughed. "Well, there are times like that. But just remember, the desert is a place of extremes and little life. The deserts make up 20% of the earth's surface but only 4% of the people live there. We may not like the rain, but without it, the whole world would be a desert. Tests and trials too help us check what we're really learning, and what we need to study further. I mean, wouldn't you say that school would be boring without any tests?"
"Well, maybe, but I'd like to try it just once to see," Julie remarked with a smile, and then looked thoughtful. "Dad, do you think the Lord was testing us last week when Joshua got sick in the night?"
"Yes, maybe. Why do you ask?"
"Because I can't think of what lesson we were being tested on, except that we all lost a bunch of sleep and I was tired all the next day."
"And we all prayed for extra strength the next morning and the Lord gave it, right?"
"Right. So was that the test?"
"Perhaps so. But I'd have to say that the Lord has been very, very good to our family. When we see what others go through, I must admit that we really haven't had very many serious troubles at all."
Julie thought again. "I guess you're right. I hope we don't become like a desert."
"Well, " Mr. Jensen said with a smile, "sometimes a desert that's had no rain for ten years will get a sudden storm. Shortly after that, pretty little desert flowers will spring up. The seeds were there all the time but needed some water to grow. So when we do face problems, I sure hope the presence of the Lord will be seen in each of our lives."
Julie grinned. "Yeah, me too."
- - - - - - - - - -

Pop Test:
1. The largest desert in the world is the Sahara in Africa. Where is the smallest desert in the world? a) Maine b) Syria c) Alaska d) Arabia e) South America f) New Brunswick
2. The Sahara is expanding south at a rate of 1/2 miles each year. In only one country of the world deserts are not expanding. What is it? a) US b) Canada c) Arabia d) Israel

ANSWER: The Little Desert in Maine is the smallest.
Israel, because of the number of trees they have planted since 1948.