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.