We may sometimes doubt the importance of our questions, but the practice of curiosity is actually a gift. Author Lore Ferguson Wilbert joins Amy Julia Becker to talk about all the questions we are invited to ask of God and of ourselves and how those questions can open up spacious places in our souls.
“Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, learner, and author of A Curious Faith and Handle With Care. She writes for She Reads Truth, Christianity Today, and more, as well as her own site, Sayable.net. She lives in New York and has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.”
- Website: sayable.net
- Instagram: @lorewilbert
- Twitter: @lorewilbert
On the Podcast:
- A Curious Faith: The Questions God Asks, We Ask, and We Wish Someone Would Ask Us
- Psalm 16:6; Genesis 3:9
- A. J. Swoboda
“If someone’s asking the question ‘Is God good?’there’s a reason they’re asking that question. There’s something underneath that question…and that takes curiosity.”
“God made you curious because he wants to be found. And that is so important to understand because we can shame our curiosity. We can, we can shame our doubt. We can shame our inquisitiveness, our skepticism. And I think instead, can we treat curiosity like this labyrinth that leads us to God? Can we treat it like that?”
“I think a good practice to hold as humans is the practice of knowing that there’s always another question underneath a question.”
“It’s really hard to be a human in the world…And I think the more grace we can have for ourselves and for our fellow travelers… the better that our journey will be.”
“We so often ask negative questions: Is God real? What if he doesn’t exist? What if love doesn’t exist? What if morality and all these things?…We very rarely ask positive questions: What if God does exist? What if love is real? What if love is as good as I want it to be? What if it’s even better than what I imagine it to be? What if justice is better than what I see around me? What if God is better? What if God does exist and is better than I think he is?”
“What if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life? What if I have staked my life on the wrong thing? What if God, isn’t real? What if the Bible isn’t true? And I think pretending that we don’t ask those questions occasionally is one of the worst things we can do. I think making a practice of asking those questions and sort of girding up ourselves and allowing other people into those questions with us is so important for our formation.”
Season 6 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my latest book, To Be Made Well, which you can order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
What if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life, what if I have staked my life on the wrong thing? What if God, isn’t real. What if the Bible isn’t true. And, And I think pretending that we don’t ask those questions, occasionally is one of the worst things we can do. I think making a practice of asking those questions and sort of guarding up ourselves and allowing other people into those questions with us is, is so important for our formation.
Amy Julia (34s):
Hi friends, I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. I got to talk with Lore Ferguson Wilbert today about all the questions that we are invited to ask. Questions were invited to ask of God and of ourselves. We got to talk about how those questions can open up spacious places in our souls. I’m really glad you get to join me for this conversation. Lore Ferguson Wilbert welcome to love is stronger than fear.
Lore (1m 10s):
Thanks, Amy, Amy, Julia.
Amy Julia (1m 13s):
I’m so glad you’re here. And we have known each other kind of through like the internet for many years, but I think this is the first time we’re getting to talk face to face. And I know listeners are not seeing your face, but I am. And I’m glad for that. And there are all sorts of things that I would like to talk to you about, but we’re here today really to talk about your latest book. And it is called a curious faith, The Questions God Asks, We Ask, and we wish someone would ask us, which I love that title so much, but the title and the subtitle. So I thought maybe we could start. And I realized when I was preparing for this, that I may use the word curious way too much in this conversation, because that’s, I’m curious about lots of things that involve your book about curiosity, but I am curious about the title And I I’m wondering where it came from and just how that might relate to what prompted you to write the
Lore (2m 7s):
Book. It’s interesting that you asked that because that wasn’t the title in my head while I was writing the book. Oh, okay. As writers, we don’t often get to pick our titles. I really, in my head, it was from a Ts Elliot quote about disturbing the universe in my head. It was, it was called disturb the universe. Oh. But I, I, I lost out on that one. Yeah. Yeah. So a curious faith, I think that the book is about the ways that we engage questions about our faith, about God, about ourselves, the ways we engage questions from God, from other people.
Lore (2m 49s):
I think so often our faith tends to be in something bedrock that we can see like tangible things. And I wanted to explore what does it, it mean to exercise, curiosity about things we can’t see.
Amy Julia (3m 5s):
I also was wondering whether there was any intended, like double meaning of the word, curious in terms of like an odd faith, like, You know, like, oh, that’s a curiosity. Like that’s something strange and not strange in a bad way. Strange in kinda a, like I’m intrigued. I’m curious about that curious thing. Like, has that, was that a part of, I mean, again, I know the title came after the book, so, but I was thinking about that.
Lore (3m 31s):
Yeah. I love that you brought that up. I actually haven’t thought about that, but I love that idea because I think that peculiar that’s I think a good word. What you’re saying. I think that it’s peculiar in the church today. I mean, for generations and generations and throughout church history, asking questions was a regular part of, I mean, if you look at the church fathers and the church mothers, they’re constantly sort of ruminating over questions, practicing curiosity about God, practicing curiosity about themselves. But I just think it’s something we’ve really lost in the last maybe a hundred years, probably. I don’t know, with the enlightenment, with the industrial age, like we, where people of, You know, we wanna, we wanna say facts and figures and cold hard things.
Lore (4m 18s):
And so, yeah. So I do think that it is peculiar in 2022 to have a curious faith.
Amy Julia (4m 27s):
Yeah. That’s I just thought that worked in terms of why the title was very clearly saying here’s what this book is about. It’s about asking questions, but then there was this kind of like subtle suggestion that there might be something even in the act of asking questions that was curious, that was peculiar. And I, I think you write even about that a little bit in terms of like, I guess you write about your own journey as a Christian and how really you’d grown up in the church. And yet had, I think you would call it like a conversion experience as an adult. And I I’d love to hear about that and what changed and especially whether the role of question asking and curiosity changed in that experience of going from the kind of church going quote unquote, good Christian to, oh, I actually understand this stuff in a whole new way.
Lore (5m 24s):
Yeah. I mean, it was everything for me. It was like a lot of people who grew up in the eighties and nineties whose faith was formed around, sorry, was faith was formed around a lot of cultural Christianity. So, You know, we’re talking things like purity culture and a lot of politics. And so you were a Christian, if you were X, Y, Z, those were things that made you a Christian. And, and then I think in my twenties, I, I was going through a lot of things in my life, my personal life that were really, really difficult. And I found church to be the one place that felt safe and by safe, I just mean, it felt, it felt like it was the one thing that wasn’t gonna fall out from underneath me.
Lore (6m 15s):
But, but as I began to know, You know, heal from some of the things that were going on, I began to, to like reveal my heart. My heart began to be revealed that there was, it was empty in there. It was really, there was nothing that I was, I was felt sure of. There was nothing that I felt was immovable. And, and when I began to ask questions, they were kind of, And I don’t think anyone intended to be, You know, callous with me. I just think that when you’re 28 years old and you’re asking is God good? And you’re surrounded by people who do believe that God’s good.
Lore (6m 58s):
Their answer is going to be, of course, God’s good. You know, can’t, you just believe that God’s good. When I think if someone’s asking the question is God good, there’s a reason they’re asking that question. And there’s something underneath that question that needs to be sort of gotten to, And that takes curiosity, takes a willingness to be curious about our own lives. It takes a willingness for other people to be curious about our lives. And when I didn’t experience like the goodness of curiosity in those years, I just kept going down and down and down until I ultimately was like, I just don’t believe God is good. I Don don’t believe he exists. If he exists, he’s not good to me. And I, I just can’t serve a God.
Lore (7m 39s):
Who’s, You know, choosy about who he’s gonna be good to. Hmm. And the Lord, I mean, through this amazing sort of weird coincidental chain of events brought me to a place where one of the first things I heard from the pulpit in this church that I was beginning to go to was, we’re not afraid of your questions and God’s not either. And that was like this, You know, awakening for me where I thought, wow, there’s, there’s a wide pasture. You know, if God’s, if God, if I can entertain the possibility that God might be good, I’m not saying he is, I’m not saying he exists, but if I can entertain the possibility that he might be good, what is goodness to me, goodness, is permissive around questions.
Lore (8m 36s):
That was how I equated. Goodness. It was Psalm 16 says it’s a pleasant boundary line. And so yeah. Asking questions sort of became the, I would say theme, looking, looking back, I would say it was a theme. I don’t know that I could have identified it as a theme in the moment, but yeah. Looking back, it, it definitely was a main theme for me leaving the church. Yeah. And then coming back. Yeah.
Amy Julia (9m 4s):
So, And I, so it sounds like there was a sense of, there was a time period, a long time period where it felt like, and it even had an experience of saying your questions are not welcome or they have like a very easy answer that does not actually address them in a way that’s helpful. And, and so that was what was like pushing you away or at least contributed to you saying, well then maybe this is not for me. And then hearing that your questions were welcome, opened up away to say, okay, then maybe I can find out more. And maybe there is something here for me. Is that accurate, like
Lore (9m 40s):
Totally accurate. And I wanna be careful again, to not characterize anyone from before as like, they’re not bad people. Right. I think they just didn’t, they didn’t have a rubric for how to, to question faith without losing it. And so, And I didn’t coin that phrase, AJ Swoboda said how to question your faith without losing it, which I love that. And I just think so many churches don’t have that rubric, so many Christians don’t so yeah.
Amy Julia (10m 9s):
Yeah. I remember I worked for a parachurch youth ministry right out of college. And so one of the things I got to do there was just put together like teaching series and was trying to introduce high school kids to Jesus, really. And so one of the teaching series that we put together were questions that Jesus Asks and questions that people ask Jesus. And it was such a wonderful, pretty early experience for me. We just first went through the gospels and wrote down and it was like dozens and dozens and dozens of hundreds,
Lore (10m 40s):
Amy Julia (10m 41s):
Questions. Yeah. Hundreds like so many questions. And so there was simply in that exercise of recognizing the number of questions and thinking about why do people ask questions? Like sometimes it’s for information sometimes it’s to build relationships sometimes it’s because of doubt, but it’s not even always that, right? Like, but usually you ask questions of people you trust. And so the fact that, and Jesus wasn both asking and responding to questions so often gave me a really different, I think, portrait of who God is and what God invites, which I think you really get at in this book, because You know, each of your chapters starts just for those who haven’t read.
Amy Julia (11m 22s):
It starts with a question that comes from the pages of the Bible. So not just from the gospels, but like the whole Bible. And there are a lot, I mean, I, I don’t know, thousands of places in the Bible where there are questions I would imagine. And I wanted to get you to just talk a little bit about what you see as the significance of the fact that there are so many questions and they’re like, they’re really good questions. I mean, they’re really, they’re not just about getting the facts straight. Right. But like what, what are the types of questions that we find in the, the pages of scripture? What’s the significance and what do they tell us about God and about ourselves?
Lore (11m 59s):
Hmm. I love that question. I mean, I think a good practice to hold as humans is the practice of, of knowing that there’s always another question underneath a question. So for instance, the first question that we see God asking humans and scriptures, where are you? You know, this is after Adam And I VE of the fruit. And I think that’s a question of location, right? It’s a question of, and You know, it’s being asked by a omnipotent omnipresent God. So he already knew the answer. I, I just think it was important for them to answer the question, but I think where are you is so much, it’s so much more than just a, a question of location, You know, behind these bushes or behind this tree.
Lore (12m 48s):
It’s a question of where have, where have you located yourself in the story? Have you found yourself in the story that you’re living and when you get underneath that, there’s so many more questions that We Ask about our location. We can ask about our social location. We Ask about our geographic location, We Ask about our theological location. So there’s all these questions that sort of should be asked if we’re just asking a surface question. And I think all of the questions that I tried to work with in this book lent to that way of thinking lent to saying there’s so much more than meets the eye here in this question.
Lore (13m 31s):
And I, I’m not saying that was the intention of the Oscar or the intention of the, the answer in, in those relationships. I’m just saying, as, as believers, we have the opportunity to practice, curiosity and ask what else is going on here. And, And I think so often in the church, we can kind of answer those questions with a, with an intellectual answer. Whoa, this is, You know, in the ancient near east, this is what was happening in that time. And here’s why Jesus has so many questions because he was of the, You know, he was a rabbi and all those things, we can kind of give those answers, but I’m interested in the, I’m interested in the sort of existential philosoph, like these kind of questions that sort of tie us up inside sometimes that we’re sometimes afraid to ask.
Lore (14m 22s):
And I think there’s so many of those questions in scripture,
Amy Julia (14m 25s):
And I think you do a great job of pulling many of those out, just that and, and pointing out the ways in which God is not asking Adam And I to say, I mean, essentially not asking them to say I’m hiding behind the tree, but like to actually come to terms with what has happened and who they are as much as any sort of like geographical location in the garden. Right. And yeah, that’s true also. I mean, you bring up the, some of the Jesus’ questions in terms of where is your faith is one I remember you writing about And that, that we can hear that as like exasperation, But it also, it might just be an honest question, like, where is your faith?
Amy Julia (15m 9s):
Like what’s going on here? Tell me about it. And I mean, and you think about just the, the relational role of questions. And if you assume going into the it’s interest, it was interesting to me reading this book in terms of the ways in which our assumptions about the character of the other person on the side of a question is going to really affect the way in which we hear that question. Yeah. And so like, if we see God as accusing Adam and Eve, when he says, who told you that you were naked, or can Jesus condemning the disciples when he says, whereas your faith that’s really different than if we see GE God asking, like inviting Adam and Eve to say, wait, who told you that you were naked?
Amy Julia (15m 52s):
Let’s talk about this. I mean, I think about like, even my kids coming home from school and saying something that is, You know, again, maybe on the surface is true, but it’s like, wait, who told you that? Like what is making you believe that that is the truth about you? And how can we get to some other place together? Yeah. Or in terms of where is your faith? Like, what if that really was something that, and Jesus wasn intending for them to build on together to explore together. And I guess it seems to me that there was a transition for you between God, as someone who might ask questions out of like irritation and anger and like, well, those humans, as opposed to a God who is like asking with gentleness and patience and love.
Amy Julia (16m 37s):
And so I’m curious like how you even understood, understand how God an understanding of God’s character affected your own experience of those questions.
Lore (16m 48s):
I mean, understanding God’s character was everything for me and my coming to understand the gospel, the picture that I had of God before I knew his character was so inaccurate, it was so inaccurate. So coming to know and trust his character, it’s pivotal really. But I think it’s also really important to understand ourselves, You know, so much has been written about this in, in recent years about knowing ourselves and knowing God and having to know ourselves before we can know God. I think one of the things I say in the book is God made you curious because he wants to be found.
Lore (17m 31s):
And that is so important to understand, because we can shame our curiosity. We can, we can shame our doubt. We can shame our inquisitiveness, our skepticism. And I think instead, can we treat curiosity like this labyrinth that leads us to, to God, can we treat it like that? And I think if we can, I Don don’t even wanna say maze, I’m saying labyrinth on purpose because I Don don’t think God is he isn’t, he’s not playing with us. Right. He’s not trying to get us to, to move different places. And then Thor, our plans, he wants to, he wants us to find him.
Lore (18m 11s):
And for me, labyrinth is a good picture of that, where, You know, it might take a while to get there, but my curiosity is leading me toward him and this isn’t answering your question exactly. But I think in order for me to know him, I have to know myself. And in order for me to know myself, I have to know him. It’s this sort of, it’s this very integrated relationship between the two and understanding his character, frees me up to understand my own character and understanding my character, frees me up to understand his character. Because when I start to understand my character, I understand that I’m a created thing.
Lore (18m 52s):
And, And that helps it frees me up to say, you are wholly apart from me and you’re wholly different than me. So my understanding of love, my understanding of goodness, my understanding of faithfulness, my understanding of doubt, my understanding of death, my understanding of brokenness. It’s not your understanding of these things. And so can I, can I trust that at the very least we are different and the way that I fear asking these questions, or I fear what’s on the other side of doubt, you don’t, you don’t fear me asking questions. You don’t fear what’s on the other side of my doubt.
Lore (19m 32s):
And that’s huge. I think that’s really, really big and it’s really hard to get to that place. It really is an act of faith to be able to get to that place. And, and so, yeah, I think God’s character is it’s pivotal in this process, understanding it.
Amy Julia (19m 50s):
Yeah. And starting from an assumption of belovedness like that, God is love and goodness and truth, right. And beauty and justice and all of those things, kindness, patience, goodness, all those things. And so, well, if that’s the case and God is God, then God can take it. Like my doubts, my fears, my pet. I mean, even if I am being like a really whiny or stubborn or any of the negative things, I might think about myself, even that like, God can take it. And oftentimes that’s actually not what I’m doing. And so I certainly don’t need to assume that God will respond to my fears doubts, or just my curiosity, like, huh, I don’t get it.
Amy Julia (20m 34s):
You know, with anything other than loving kindness, even if that might come out by way of, You know, you be right about job and where God is basically like, you gotta sit down and understand who I am before we can go any further, You know?
Lore (20m 51s):
Amy Julia (20m 52s):
I, well, so I, one of the quotations I wrote down was from your book, the Bible is a permission slip for those, with questions, which I think you’ve already spoken to a bit, but one of the things I’ve been thinking about in the past couple of years, when I think about my own writing, And I think yours can fall into this category as well, is that I’ve been thinking about writing for spiritual seekers, for people who are asking questions about faith. And I, I hope that is true. That that’s something I’m doing And I want to be accessible to people who are not just like, oh yeah, I’ve signed on the dotted line. And I know who Jesus is and whatever, but I’ve also realized that I am writing for spiritual seekers who are Christians, as much as I’m writing for spiritual seekers who are not Christians.
Amy Julia (21m 37s):
And that in fact, there’s a real congruence between people inside and outside of the church or whatever we wanna call it when you’re willing to ask questions. And so it seems to me that sometimes Christians assume that the questions stop. Once you have faith like that, there’s some difference between having faith and having questions. And, You know, cuz it’s like, oh, we are a seeker friendly church. Right? And then once the seekers have their questions answered, they are Christians and therefore they’re no longer seekers and we’re done. And I’m like, well, wait a second, I’m a Christian. And I’m a seeker. Like I still have a lot of questions and helping anyway, that’s been a helpful recognition for me, but I’m also curious if you can speak to just the, why do we think that faith and curiosity or faith and questions are actually at odds of each other?
Lore (22m 29s):
I, I think because we’re human and because we want, I mean the very first sin was, You know, tasting of the tree that, of, of the knowledge of good and evil. And the temptation was you can be like God and know everything. And so I, this is not like a, this isn’t a new struggle in our flesh. This is as, as old as time. And I think we can almost take that temptation of wanting to know everything and we can in the church, we can say, well, we’re gonna swing the pendulum the other way we’re gonna get as far away from knowing everything we’re gonna get as far away from the desire to know everything as possible.
Lore (23m 9s):
And we’re just gonna say the answer is Jesus. And nothing else is allowed to be talked about. Nothing is allowed to be explored being on that. Or the Bible said it, we believe it. And it’s therefore it’s true. And the answer is Jesus and the Bible is true, but because of those two things, that means that there’s a lot of space between wanting to be like God and know everything and choosing to not, not entertain questions at all. And, but I don’t think, I don’t think we should be ashamed of either having questions or be ashamed of the fact that we have been, I think col culturally in the church we’ve been silenced against having questions.
Lore (23m 54s):
I think both of those two things are just responses to living in a world where we don’t understand everything and where we want to, and, or we’re just afraid to ask and we’re afraid to, to exercise faith. It’s really hard to be a human in the world. Yeah. Right. Like it’s just hard. And I think the more grace we can have for ourselves and for our fellow travelers in that, the better that, that our journey will be. I don’t know if that answers your question exactly. But I think, I don’t think there’s one answer to the reason why we are so reticent.
Amy Julia (24m 35s):
And I’m wondering just in hearing you talk about this, whether there is like a modern dimension to it in the sense that, You know, before let’s call it, the printing, press the enlightenment, whatever. There was just an assumption. And, and even, You know, maybe for a couple hundred years afterwards that God existed. Like that was not actually a question. Not it wasn’t like people weren’t allowed to ask it. They just, it didn’t in the same way that we don’t, we’re not asking the question of whether the atmosphere exists. Yeah, it does. We know that like that’s just a given. And so I do wonder whether once you’ve pulled the thread on God’s existence, which we have in our modern world, whether your point before, which is like behind every question is another question.
Amy Julia (25m 22s):
And whether there is just a fear that I’m going to get to the ultimate question, which is, does God exist. And even behind that there, because if the answer’s no, well then does that mean that love doesn’t exist? And that like all of these other things, these attributes of God don’t exist either. And I, and there is a sense of like, is there a backstop, like, is there a place where this does on some level finally land and, and maybe, I mean, maybe that is like, yeah, it lands with faith, not with certainty in an actual personal God. Yeah. But I, I think there’s maybe a particularly modern fear of asking the question that leads to the question that leads to the question because so much of our world has, You know, concluded like, no, like none of this, You know, the Bible’s not true and Jesus wasn a real person, but not, You know who he said he was, and God does not exist.
Amy Julia (26m 22s):
And therefore, You know, you drink and be married.
Lore (26m 26s):
I think it’s so interesting that you asked that question because I think we so often ask negative question is God real, what if he doesn’t exist? What if love doesn’t exist? What if morality and all these things? And they, You know, they make us spiral out. We very rarely ask the question. What if God does exist? What if love is real? What if love is as good as I, And I want it to be like, when I imagine love in my mind, what if it’s even better than what I imagine it to be? What if justice is better than what I see around me? What if God is better? What if God does exist and is, is better than I think he is.
Lore (27m 7s):
We so rarely ask that question.
Amy Julia (27m 10s):
Well, and there is like, there’s the problem of suffering and the problem of evil, but there really is a corresponding problem of good yeah. Of kindness and of gentle, You know, all of those things, which I think is getting at part of what you’re saying that like, yeah. And, And I wonder whether curiosity, yeah. Hopefully is an invitation, not simply to ask the hard questions, but actually to ask those like wonderful questions of like, maybe it’s true.
Lore (27m 39s):
Yeah. I think I Don don’t wanna give away the ending, but I’m gonna give away the ending. Yeah. At the end of the book, the answer is Jesus. But at the end of the book, the question that Jesus is asking Peter, like, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And the question I ask the reader is, can you love God? Can you trust? God’s love for you. Like, can you trust that it’s almost too good to be true, right. Instead of too terrible to be, to be lived. And I think it’s so important for us to recalibrate our lives in a sense to, to asking to ch to risk, cuz it’s such a, it feels like such a risk to ask if something is good enough or if it, it actually exists or if it’s as good as I want it to be, that feels so much more risky in my mind than to ask questions about the negative.
Lore (28m 33s):
Yeah. And I, I’m not sure why, but probably cuz it’s hope and hope is really
Amy Julia (28m 40s):
Hard. Yeah. And hope is I think particularly hard without an anchor. Right. I mean, I’m just like, and, and to think that we there’s so much that we don’t know and we won’t know, You know, and, and so on the one hand there’s a tremendous freedom in saying, I’m going to put my hope. I’m gonna put my trust. I’m gonna put my faith in the one who knows in the one who is love and the one who is justice and You know, all of those things. Yeah. And there’s like this cynical voice in my head that says that, what if it’s all gonna fall apart? Yeah. Yeah. What if it’s all for not,
Lore (29m 20s):
And I think, I just wanna say like, I think that that’s okay. Like I just, I, I think probably more of us even more faithful Christians than we know occasionally have that thought in the back of their minds. What if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life? Yeah. What if I have staked my life on the wrong thing? What if, God, isn’t real. What if the Bible isn’t true. Yeah. And, And I think pretending that we don’t ask those questions, occasionally is one of the worst things we can do. I think, I think asking those questions, making a practice of asking those questions and sort of guarding up ourselves and allowing other people into those questions with us is, is so important for our formation,
Amy Julia (30m 9s):
Which leads me that to like, there’s a lot in this book of your own story of loss and absence and things not working out as planned and traumatic events and just a sense of deprivation, like all of these hard things. And that leads to this classic question of like, where is God when it hurts? Why do innocent people suffer? How do we understand goodness and love alongside human suffering. Right. That whole set of like philosophical, ethical, spiritual questions. Yeah. And certainly, You know, I Don don’t think you cracks the code in a way that the, I didn’t
Lore (30m 43s):
Amy Julia (30m 44s):
Right. But I’m curious like whether writing this book changed any of those questions for you or kind of not landed you again in some like neat and tidy answer, but gave you any more sense of grounding in facing suffering and loss.
Lore (31m 4s):
I’m really glad you were used the word grounding because for me it is, it’s a very visual picture that I have of God and my questions around suffering and loss and absence and all those things. And the picture is what I, what I said at the beginning, Psalm 16 talks about that pleasant boundary line. That’s fallen for me. Indeed. I have a delightful inheritance. And so when I think about the fence that God has around my questions and my life, it is a giant fence And it contains a very green pasture. Yeah.
Lore (31m 44s):
A lot of space to wrestle. I’m not gonna arrive in the new heavens and face Jesus. And he’s not gonna say to me, man, you were just too curious about me. You were just too curious about my plan. You just wanted to know too much about suffering and loss and love and justice. Like that’s not what God’s, Jesus is not gonna say that. Yeah. He’s gonna say, were you faithful within the pastor that I gave you and the pastor that he’s given me. And I think the pastor he is given every Christian is a really generous pasture in which we can wrestle.
Lore (32m 26s):
And we can practice curiosity for a really long time for the rest of our lives. And so I would say in answer to that question, I don’t know that I have arrived anywhere that is more solid or more firm. I have have arrived into a place where it’s like, wow, I’m so grateful for the generous pasture, which I found myself so grateful that I Don don’t live a straight jacketed faith anymore. I’m so grateful that I don’t think that God is this punitive. God. Who’s like ripping things away from me. As soon as I lose my faith. He’s not like he’s not disappointed in me constantly. I’m his beloved. He loves to see me frolic in the pasture.
Lore (33m 7s):
He loves to see me rest beside stillwaters. And he loves to, for me to explore that pasture, to find out what’s behind every rocking tree in the pasture.
Amy Julia (33m 22s):
Yeah. I love that. And I I’m thinking about this was again, a long, long time ago when I kind of confronted the death of a friend for the first time where younger actually he was five years younger than us. So kid who had been involved in the ministry, we were part of within a car accident. And I spent some pretty intentional time just like one afternoon confronting this loss with God because I, You know, had yeah. Known people who died before, but not in this way. And it was so senseless and, and really at that point, almost anything bad that it happened in my life of faith. Eventually I could come up with a story that explained it where it was like, oh, I got the bad grade on the test.
Amy Julia (34m 5s):
So I would learn how to study. Yeah. I mean, I didn’t, that’s, I’m, I’m making that up, but there were things like that where it was like, oh, this, You know, was the reason for that. Yeah. And there was no reason, like, and in fact, I mean, I now can look back on it And I I’m like, yes it is. And I would much rather live in a world in which there is absolutely no good reason for a 19 year old to lose his life in a car accident, as opposed to that was something God did for such a purpose. Like, so I’m relieved at that answer. That isn’t an answer, but really the only thing I heard in three hours of like sitting on this bench and crying out to God was the words.
Amy Julia (34m 47s):
I understand that I do not understand, like that was where I had to leave. It was like, I, I either trust you enough to say, even though I Don don’t understand I’m gonna keep going or I Don don’t. And, and, And I think the don’t, would’ve been fine in that moment too, right. To your point about the expansive pasture. But that actually was really comforting to me, that sense of like, I’m never going to understand this and there’s actually some goodness in that there is it God’s heart is grieved by young people dying in car accidents, like period. End of story. And, And I, that was, again, a place of invitation to question it didn’t shut the questions down, But it also was kind of a different answer than maybe the ones I had ever had before, where it was like, oh, it makes sense of it all like, yeah, beginning, middle end.
Amy Julia (35m 38s):
Now I’m done as opposed to like wide open world where some bad things happen And I don’t understand it. And there’s a lot of beauty and goodness, And I wanna be a part of that. So we’re
Lore (35m 49s):
Gonna, and that’s faith, that’s faith like that is that’s the, this, this juxtaposition between like, I do not understand. I cannot put my faith in something that I can sink my teeth into in this situation. And yet I am going to be okay with the fact that I don’t understand that Crosspoint right there. That’s faith. Yeah. And that’s a curious faith. I think we’re just so quick to call what we understand faith. And I think, honestly, I think about what we’re seeing in a church right now, And I am just seeing people fall. I mean, constantly fall away from the Lord or what I perceived to be falling away from the Lord. And really what it is is they’re falling away from institutions.
Lore (36m 31s):
They’re falling away from people because they’ve put their faith in, in those things. And I know cuz I’ve been there, I’ve put my faith in institutions, put my faith in people. But that, that beautiful sweet spot of when we can say like, I believe help my unbelief that’s faith. Right, right there. That’s faith. And it’s hard to live there. It’s like almost impossible to live there because we are human. And because we don’t like that, that sort of tension that happens. It’s not natural to have that tension. And yet I think it is really good. I think there’s a good space there.
Amy Julia (37m 6s):
Yeah. And I do think our world brings us to that place pretty frequently. Well, I’m curious, like at the beginning of this podcast, I always introduce it by saying that this is a podcast about finding hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. So anyone who’s listened will have heard me say that before, but I am wondering for you whether this journey of beginning to ask questions and pursue faith in a different way, what asking questions of yourself and of God, whether, and in what way that’s been a journey of like hope and healing for you. Have there been ways in which this has brought renewed or different sense of like hope and or yeah.
Amy Julia (37m 48s):
Kind of healing some wounded places.
Lore (37m 51s):
Yeah. I, I think our world is so fractured right now. It’s so divided. And You know, I talk to people who are in their sixties and seventies and even they say, I’ve never seen it like this before. It’s it is just so fractured. And I think that comes and, You know, a sense of hopelessness comes with that. But I also think for me, that’s ground, that’s, that’s really ripe for curiosity. So if I can get curious about my neighbor, who has a Confederate flag hanging on their porch, like if I can get curious about that neighbor And I can also get curious about my other neighbor who has a rainbow flag hanging from their porch.
Lore (38m 31s):
Like, I think that’s a really powerful thing. Like that’s a really beautiful thing to be able to get curious about people we don’t understand and people we don’t, we might not necessarily agree with or find virtue in. Yeah. I think it’s really powerful to, to have a, a practice of curiosity in our lives. And that has been personally really powerful for me. There are sometimes when I’m faced with a question that leads me to, to a reality that while I can have empathy for the person, I still have to say that’s wrong.
Lore (39m 11s):
Like, that’s, that’s a matter of justice. That’s a matter of righteousness. And, And I understand why you chose that, that position, but I, I still have to say in my heart, that’s wrong, that’s simple, that’s broken. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start with curiosity.
Amy Julia (39m 25s):
Yeah. Well, and just as we come to kind of, to the close of this conversation, I I’m recognizing that I’m a question asker. I love it. When people ask me questions, I love, You know, I host a podcast because I like asking people questions, but I also like getting to new answers And I do find a need to rest in the presence of God and sometimes be not done with my questions in like a permanent way. But in the sense of like, You know, again, back to your image of the pastor, just like time to lie down by the still waters, like makes me lie down, You know?
Amy Julia (40m 6s):
And I’m wondering whether you have any intentional practices of resting in the love of God amidst all of the enduring questions.
Lore (40m 16s):
Hmm. That’s such a good question. I would say, I mean, for me being out in nature is the best practice for me to, and we live in a place that is just, I mean is just ripe with beauty. Yeah. And so we are outside all the time and it is a space that reminds me of the bigness of God and the goodness of God. And, and again, it’s like this, this sort of tangible representation of the pasture of the wideness and the expanse and the space to move around. And so, yeah, I think being out on my kayak, being in the woods, those kinds of things yeah. Are really good practices for me.
Amy Julia (40m 56s):
Hmm. I love that. And I, And I think it will be, I mean, I think one of the things that comes up in your book, but also in this, this conversation is that sense of, there are some questions that tie us together and needs that we all have, but there’s also a sense of the particularity of who you are and how God wants to actually encounter you or your community or your neighborhood. And for many of us, I think being in nature will be an answer there, but for some of us, it will be something different. And just knowing that God wants to give us, I, I think that that need for questions is a part of being human, but so is that need for rest?
Amy Julia (41m 38s):
And that God wants to give us both those things. Yeah. Yeah, he does. Well, thank you for giving us so many prompts for really good questions and conversations in your book and thank you for your time here today. Hmm. Thanks for having me. Thanks as always for listening to this episode of love is stronger than fear. We rely on word of mouth around here. So please let other people know if you enjoyed this episode and please also leave a rating or a review wherever you get your podcast. It really helps to get the word out. Thanks also to Jake Hanson for editing this podcast. Thanks to Amber Beery my social media coordinator who makes everything behind the scenes happen.
Amy Julia (42m 21s):
And finally, as you go into your day to day, I hope and to pray, you will carry with you. The peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.
Learn more with Amy Julia:
- To Be Made Well: An Invitation to Wholeness, Healing, and Hope
- Lore Ferguson Wilbert Endorses To Be Made Well
- Asking the Right Questions
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to receive regular updates and news. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads, and you can subscribe to my Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast on your favorite podcast platforms.