How Lack Makes Up for Lack

KINGDOM MATH

I don’t like math. For me, math is a strange world in which I can easily become lost.

But Kingdom math can really throw me. It doesn’t seem to add up.

Save your life and you will lose it. Lose your life and you will find it.

You see what I mean.

Kingdom math is a required course, but there’s no syllabus, and there isn’t anything in the curriculum about memorizing formulas or working out equations with pencil and paper. To gain insight into this discipline, God always walks us through story problems. We learn the subject only as we learn to walk with God through our unfolding stories. What makes the process of discovery difficult is that, many times, only God knows what problem we’re working on.

I’m a slow learner, but I have a patient Instructor. It took me about seven years to understand that—in Kingdom terms—lack can make up for lack. I’ll be honest. Walking through this lesson, and working out this problem, has been an unpleasant experience for me. I’ve spent hours in front of the blackboard puzzled and perplexed.

Since God is a God of abundance, why am I experiencing lack?

Here is what took me such a long time to understand. By denying the fulfillment of some of my requests, and by delaying His answers to many of my petitions, God was gifting me with precious time in the furnace of testing. With the heat turned up, I found Tim Keller’s words to be true. Our idols will abandon us in the fires of trial. Only Jesus will walk with us all the way through the furnace and out the other side.

And while we move with Him through the furnace of testing—often while under the impression that we’re lacking something essential–Jesus produces in us patient endurance, so that we might become “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

When grace is in the equation, “lack” can make up for lack, and loss can lead to gain.

And I have to say, I really like this kind of math.

6 thoughts on “How Lack Makes Up for Lack

  1. Another great post, Dave. The thought of how spending more time in the furnace resonates with me. The furnace is such an uncomfortable place to be, but that’s where God teaches me about Himself, conforms me to the image of His son. When I’m held captive in the heat and flames, that’s when my eyes are more prone to turn to Him.

    And, how often have I believed I lacked something I thought God should give me? Um, more times than I’ll confess to here. But I’m learning it’s perspective. Do I really need it when I think I do? Apparently not, if God hasn’t seen fit to give it to me. It’s such a hard lesson to walk through. Humbling too.

    But grace…..grace is enough to cover any lack. Thank goodness.

    • I could not agree with you more. The furnace is uncomfortably hot and the refining process is unpleasant, but you are so right that our eyes turn to Him and fix upon Him in the fire.
      And, yes, I’ve often viewed my life as lacking something that I thought God should provide. I’ve had idols that couldn’t stand the heat and bailed on me while Jesus remained with me in the furnace. Slowly I am beginning to realize He really is all I need.

  2. Kingdom math is really a koan. Very much in line with the sound of one hand clapping.

    It’s also modern physics, in the theory of the ‘Big Bang’.. When we reach the singularity that’s God, all things are contained within a vanishingly small point. This is not to say that God is vanishingly small; rather, everything we would ever need is already within every manifestation of His grace.

    Good food for thought, today, Dave!

    • “everything we would ever need is already within every manifestation of His grace”
      That, my friend, is an expression of truth I must meditate upon and hold tightly to in every situation and circumstance. You have said it all.
      Thanks, AndreW!

  3. Love the analogy of the fire burning the idols. Heard a sermon this month where the pastor asked what idols were more important to us than the sanctification God has in mind for us. I don’t know about you, but I like pleasure and ease. I just need a reminder every now and then that I want God more.

    • I like pleasure and ease, too. One of my idols is comfort. If I fashioned a material idol it would be a man made out of pillows.
      I’m beginning to learn the truth your Pastor preached. Every now and then I get a glimpse of the inestimable value of suffering in God’s sanctifying work. But like you, I need reminders 🙂

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