I have a friend who uses this phrase quite often – “But, God.”
It’s a phrase lifted right out of God’s own lips. Its expression fluctuates with the positioning of a tiny ink blot.
There’s the finality of the period.
There’s the shout of the exclamation point.
There’s the subtle pause of the comma.
And finally, the mystery of the unfolding dot. dot. dot.
This “but”, this humble link between two clauses, two narratives, can be like the sudden appearance of a comet streaking across the sky. Or it can be like the subtle wind change that redirects the course of your sails.
Some of you know this.
You were going about your life thinking that this is all there is and then you had an encounter with God that you could not explain to your friends.
Maybe you were traveling down the road of negativity and anxiety searching for answers and suddenly found yourself going down a new path toward your healing.
Or like me, you found yourself in the middle of the night lying on a cot in a roomful of other terrified parents lying on their cots as you all awaited the final diagnosis that would not bode well for your children. Then, one day, three years later you woke up on a crisp Autumn day and you heard the doctors say to you…”but we can’t explain why your son’s liver has completely shrunk to its normal size…” To this day you still marvel that the boy keeps drumming worship into his third decade.
This…from a long ago silly movie, is one of the truest things I have ever heard-
“Everyone I know has a big but…”
Funny, but true, but tragic, stuff.
Isn’t it true that for many of us, our buts are really excuses or avoidances of why we live half-hearted lives?
But, I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.
But, she’s struggled with addictions for so long.
But God has seen my hardship.
But, I can’t really do anything significant.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
But, he cheated on his wife.
But You are a fogiving God.
But, she’s always been depressed.
But God will redeem my life from the pit.
Our buts are roadblocks erected to keep us safe from disappointment, from accountability, even the possibility of just being happy for no reason. Our buts confine us, derail us, and diminish us.
I can say this because I live from a narrative that says I am beloved and some things are just plain funny and some things are just plain true and laughter is good medicine and if God doesn’t laugh, then I don’t know nothin’.
Because the plain truth is God has a bigger but. It trumps our puny, little buts because with God all things are possible.
I may be weak…My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
I may have messed up…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
Are you walking toward your own Jerusalem this week? Are you ready to face what awaits you there?
When the enemy of your soul throws your addictions, your anxieties, your pain and your sin in your face, you can put away your roadblocks and say the hard work of life is the hard work of life. It can feel like it’s killing you right now. … but God is the strength of my (your) heart and my (your) portion forever.
This is my Lenten journey this week.
Facing Jerusalem and saying But, God.
The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.- Mark Twain