But God

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” Ephesians 2:4-5

In 2016, I wrote a Bible study entitled, “But God.” It was the sort of thing that only could have happened by the power of the Holy Spirit. Deep down, I knew I wanted to write a book someday. I have loved books and loved words for as long as I can remember. During my childhood days, I even started my own neighborhood newspaper. I guess I fancied myself a reporter and was determined to do what I could even then to put words on paper and spread it around. Now, mind you, those newspapers most likely came at great cost to my elderly neighbors who let me invade their space, and their woods, for more hours than they would have liked. I was keeping tabs on the goings-on of the neighborhood (which was not a metropolis by any means–picture several houses set on acres in the middle of the country). I created a plethora of articles and short stories, hand wrote them, and delivered them. The Sunny Side News. I was in all my glory. I loved every minute of it. As a girl, I would save my money and beg to be taken to the bookstore to buy a new book, which never lasted me any time at all. To this day, I am a voracious reader and consider myself book poor because that is my favorite way to spend money.

In 2016, my beloved grandmother died. She was the matriarch, who also loved to read. I remember saying to her many times throughout the years, “Someday, I am going to write a book.” Yet the first words I ever wrote that were read aloud were the words I penned for her eulogy and read at her funeral. I get choked up just thinking about it. Somehow, I knew then that I would not let her down, and I WOULD write a book someday. But God, who has His own plans and His own ways, also determined that I would write a book. Yet the book He had ordained for me to write was not of the fictional sort that my grandmother and I both enjoyed. One morning, about five months following Mamaw’s funeral, I was on a run. And I loved to talk to God on my runs. On that particular day, I was praying and trying to determine which Bible study He would like me to do next, what was it that God was wanting to teach me? I had just finished a fantastic Bible study about the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. And I felt the Holy Spirit whisper quietly in my spirit, “Do not begin a new Bible study. The time has come for you to write one.” I pondered that as I ran on, and excitement grew within me. I thought and asked God, “Peter, Lord? Do you want me to write about Peter and his life?” I relate to Peter. I am the 21st century, female version of Peter, though way more flawed and way less holy. I was already outlining in my head all the things. But I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Not Peter. Joshua.” I kid you not, I stopped in the street, and said back to Him, “Joshua? Like fought the battle of Jericho, Joshua?” I knew then it was exactly what God wanted me to do.

Each morning, I rose early, and with little confidence, I pulled out my MacBook to begin to write. Every single morning, I depended on God to lead, to guide, and to direct. And every single morning, I set beside my Bible, my notes, and my commentaries, the Bible study written by an actual, well-known author that I wanted to do, just in case God didn’t show up and give me the words to write. But God did. Every day, I faithfully showed up with Him, and He faithfully directed me until the entire Bible study was written. The completed work itself was the very definition of a “But God” moment. I had my plans, my dreams, my thoughts, but God has His own for me. What a blessing it was to surrender my wants and wishes to Him and to allow Him to work in me and do His thing, getting me out of the way.

Upon the completion of writing this study and sharing the story with a small group of ladies who I considered friends, one of their husbands commented on the title of it. She told me he had made a joke about what is a “But God?” I laughed along, and honestly, I took a measure of personal offense to it. But shook it off because writers must be prepared for extensive criticism of their works. However, our God is entirely the “But God” of the Bible. I began to pay close attention to how many times and in a variety of forms, some version of the phrase, “But God” appears in the Bible. He is one million percent a “But God.” In fact, I believe wholeheartedly He delights in showing up in “But God” fashion.

How beautiful and redemptive are these words found in Ephesians 2:4-6: “We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Emphasis added is mine.) We were dead in our sins and trespasses, and that is when God intervened. He didn’t wait for us to be ready to love Him and be willing to make different choices and turn from our sins. He sent His Son to die on the cross while we were still dead in our sins because He loved us so much. That is the God who allows us to live with faith when our circumstances seem too painful or difficult to bear, when life feels overwhelming, when we don’t think we have the strength to say no one more time to the temptation or addictions we face. But God, who is rich in mercy. But God, who always makes a way of escape. But God, whose ways and plans and thoughts are higher than our own. But God, who comforts us so we can comfort others. But God, who takes the least and makes them the greatest. But God, who raised Jesus from the dead and conquered the grave. But God, who makes a way when there seems to be no way. But God, who lifts our head and offers grace and forgiveness. But God, who allowed Jesus to be struck down for our rebellion. But God, who was pleased for Jesus to be crushed severely for us. But God, who makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. But God, who has redeemed us and called us by name. But God, who is our shield, our refuge, our protector, our light and salvation. This is the God who adds the “but” to any and every situation that feels too much in our own strength, will, and understanding.

I just finished a book about the life, and death, of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I found myself wondering how he and his family endured what they did in Nazi Germany during WWII. They had such faith, such boldness, and such courage. Many of his family members were executed, as was he. In their own strength and humanity, he could not. But God sustained and strengthened him. What a powerful witness and testimony his life and death have been since then.

Where do you need to hear “But God” in your life and circumstances today? God is so much stronger, bigger, and powerful than our finite, human minds can fathom. He wants us to invite Him into whatever the hopeless, hurtful, harmful, devastating, impossible situation we are facing today and open our palms upward toward Him, and pray the simple words, “But, You, O God.” Then wait with expectation, awe, and praise for Him to do what only He can do. But God!

Published by Dawn413

Jesus is the lover of my soul. Throughout my life, in both triumphs and challenges, Jesus has shown me that He is the ultimate source of satisfaction. There is no other. I love words, and He has filled my heart with a passion for Him, His Word, and writing. I am a mom of both humans and furry canines. I love running, hiking, reading, the ocean, baseball, basketball. I love spending time with my friends and family and doing any activity that can include my pups!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: