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.