The Tension–The Already/Not Yet

Welcome to the last post in our series on the prosperity ‘g’ospel. Over the last three weeks, we’ve explored what God doesn’t promise, what he does, and how those are held in tension, and we’ve been honored to have some of the best writers on the internet exploreing writing on those themes. Today we are privileged to have Lore Ferguson wrapping it up. I stumbled across Lore’s words a few months ago and knew I’d be reading her for a long time. I’m honored that she’s agreed to share some words here. As always, help us work this out in the comments below.

A friend calls me last night, nearly in tears, “I just feel so far from God,” she is telling me and I know her. I know this about her and I know this about me.

We talk about Jacob wrestling and how he was surrounded by the goodness of God in a myriad of ways, wives, children, livestock, and still the match was on, “I won’t let go until you bless me.” How is it that if we lift our eyes above the fold we see the goodness, but it is so easy to burrow beneath the fold of earth, the crusted, messy stuff of earth? And we do our wrestling there. In the messy.

I tell her I’m not worried about her, though I should be, right? I should worry for her with the same intensity with which I pray for her later. But I am not worried because she is wrestling. She has taken the Lord near to her, she turns over Hebrew verbiage in her mouth, she murmurs on His goodness, she builds Ebenezers (I Samuel 7) with her faith, “Thus far, the Lord has brought us.” I do not worry about her because she lives in the tension.

I fear for my friends who live on a god-high, mountain-top after mountain-top. His grand acts and marvelous wonder constantly in their mouth. They are high-rolling on the spirit. I worry for them and sometimes I want to be them.

I fear for my friends who feel things so deeply they cannot see His goodness when it comes (Jeremiah 17), they are like tumbleweed in the desert, rolling wherever the wind takes them and the wind is knocked out of them at the slightest gust. I worry for them and I am like them.

But I do not worry for my friends, or for myself, when it is tension in which we live. When we see the blessing and we see the suffering (and oh how we have see the suffering), and we do not laud balance as the fix, but tension.

In bible college I first heard the phrase “Already/Not yet” and I roll it over on my tongue, loving it, keeping it precious and near. He is already come and He is not yet come. Tension, not balance. He taught us to pray, “On earth as it is in heaven.” Tension, not balance. He brought the father of the demoniac near, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Tension, beautiful, beautiful tension.

We confess what is and we confess what is to come in the same breath, spirit, wind—we go where He wants us to go and we wrestle our way there.

I know you feel far from Him, I say to my friend last night, but you are wrestling with Him. There is only one act more intimate than wrestling I tell her and I would argue that it would be sacrilegious to imagine that act with God. But wrestling? Hands in crevices, on necks, bending but not breaking, filling but not overflowing, knowing but still not knowing?

This is how I know He is good—that He condescends to earth, finds us in patch of dirt, and pulls us wrestling ever toward Him.

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7 Responses to The Tension–The Already/Not Yet

  1. Pingback: When You Don’t Believe that God is Near | Sayable

  2. Misty Dawn says:

    wrestling with God as a beautiful, intimate tension . . . wow. while I’ve felt the tension, & the desire for more & more & more of Him, His truth, etc . . I’m not usually grateful for the struggle & all that this “wrestling” really comes with, but to be reminded that the struggle means I’m with Him, & He is with me, sure is a perspective changer.

  3. marcia moston says:

    Beautiful. The wrestling does mean the engagement, the longing, and that God does not deny. May we recognize his touch–even if it is a limp hip.

    • Yes! Beautiful words. Recognizing His touch—even when it’s not what we expected and even when it leaves us with a limp. I love how the end of that chapter says that “even to this day the Israelites do not eat the meat of the hipbone.” Jacob’s wrestling was so profound that for every generation following, they would remember the full ramifications of his suffering. I love that. Thanks for reading Marcia!

  4. Tanya Marlow says:

    I think you may be my new best friend.

    This so echoes my heart, and the things that I have recently been exploring, but in a back of my mind, rolling it around, ‘is this right? Am I the only one who thinks this?’ kind of way. I have been thinking a lot about jacob wrestling, and jeremiah 17 was the last thing i blogged on! You just gave me permission to believe what I believe,

    I have recently had an unfortunate run-in with someone who implied that I should be feeling the joy of the lord 24:7 or I was spiritually deficient – and I was surprised at how deep it cut, how quickly old insecurities surfaced, how defensive and bruised I felt. This post honestly does feel like a gift from God to me, and I am thankful and a bit tearful. It is divine timing.

    I have seen your name around a lot recently, and I look forward to following you more closely.

    Thanks too again, Seth, for hosting this – I am praying for you and your family as you wade knee-deep in that tension with all that is going on with you at the moment.

  5. Tanya, one of the first things I heard my pastor say when I walked through the doors of my church was “We’re okay if you’re not okay…” and it was then that I knew I was home. There is something about the permission to NOT be okay while at the same time knowing that there is so much more for us. He finishes his sentence with “…but we’re not okay for you to stay that way.” Such hope. Such tension. It really has set me free to ask tough questions and fully wrestle through all the answers, even if it takes a long, long time to find them. I’m grateful that you found one answer in this post—and I hope you will keep wrestling for future answers. He is close in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

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