Individualized Spiritual Testing

[NOTE: The following email dialog is based on the March 7 reading in the devotional book titled The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (Tyndale, 2003). To give a thumbnail background, Vibia Perpetua was a young mother in Carthage who died a martyr on March 7, 203, for being unwilling to give up her faith at the command of the Roman emperor Septimius Serverus, even at the strong urging of her father, explaining that, as a vase or water pot could not become what it was not made to be, she could not be other than the Christian she had been called to be.]


Been thinking about this comment since you mentioned it the other day, and then yesterday had a chance to read it.

Not sure that it is true in an absolute sense that she was a “better” person. Consider these things:

1) No father has the same expectations for individual accomplishment for every child. Right? If I remember right, you had 2 children–you didn’t treat them EXACTLY the same, did you? I know I didn’t my 2, nor my 2 step-children. One interpretation of the scripture from Proverbs “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” is with emphasis on the “HE” in the 1st part–i.e., NOT the way some other child should go, but the way intended specifically for him in God’s incredibly unique design.

2) When needed, each of us can be a hero. I wanted to state that succinctly. What I mean is, when we are called upon by circumstances to stand, to be a witness, the empowerment to do so will be there. Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place), who was imprisoned in Nazi Germany for hiding Jews, and was the only one of her family who survived, told of a story when she was a child. She asked her father the meaning of some term she heard, something vulgar and not appropriate for her age. He said, “Corrie, when we go somewhere on the train, when do I give you your ticket?” She said, “When I need it, after we get on.” He replied, “When you need to know that, you will know.” And that is generally true of our spiritual tests. I don’t believe Jesus could not have undergone the temptation in the wilderness PRIOR to being baptized and having the Holy Spirit come on him. In fact, Scripture specifically states that it was the Spirit who led him into the wilderness! I remember being impressed with the story of a French nun in Africa who was being raped by a group of guerrilla fighters who ravaged so much in the 20th century. Right in the midst of being raped, traumatic as that must have been, she heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “I have need of your body.” She somehow managed to cooperate, and ended up later leading at least one of her captors to Christ. Not a test I would have wanted to undergo. But we are each called to our own test, and we each “succeed” or “fail” based on our loving Father’s expectations for us in that particular test–not by tests given to others.

Hope that helps. I think you are doing a great job of following the Lord–as great in your own way as Vibia!

Congratulations, Russ Perpetuus (masculine of Perpetua!)…<G>



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