Buts can be big. They can even make the most sense, be the most logical in a discussion.
They can bring up good points of practicality and probability.
Buts can carry an argument and bring to light things unconsidered.
They can highlight oversights and can sometimes change a course of action.
Buts can be really, really big.
But…(every pun intended) God isn’t afraid of big buts.
His plans are bigger. Bigger than the practicalities and the probabilities and the logic and common sense of every “but”.
This morning I’ve been reading about Moses and Jeremiah. God had a call on their lives (as He does on ours) from the time of their conceptions and before. He called them to the impossible. Moses, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Out of slavery and the corrupt oppression of the powerful Pharaoh. Jeremiah, still a child, to speak to the Israelites who had turned their backs on the God who had rescued them.
Both of them had big buts:
Moses: But…”Who am I to talk to Pharaoh?” “What if he/they don’t listen to me?” “I don’t speak well.”
Jeremiah: But…”I’m too young.” “I don’t know how to speak.”
Both of their buts were logical and true. They were true obstacles, humanly speaking, to the plan.
But God’s plans were bigger than all of their buts.
And His answer to both of them? “Don’t be afraid. I will be with you.”
All He required of them was their trust in and availability to His presence. That’s it. He would do the rest. His words and actions would accomplish His plan. Each of them would merely be the blessed spectator through whom He would work.
Isn’t it interesting that fear is the cause of most of the buts that we use in our arguments with God? Like Moses and Jeremiah, we fear our own shortcomings. We fear failure. We fear disappointment. We fear the unknown results. We fear getting it wrong.
And God’s answer to all of those fearful buts is what it’s been for all of time: “Don’t be afraid. I will be with you.”
Because His presence is enough for us. “Don’t worry. I’m right here.” Somehow, knowing that is a game changer. It reminds us that the impossible IS possible with God and our buts begin to pale significantly in the light of His ability to do “beyond what we can ask or imagine.”
Throughout the bible God’s “impossible” dreams evoked “but” responses from those he asked to be part of His plan.
I think of Mary whom God chose to become the mother of Jesus. Her first response? “How can this be? I am a virgin.” The impossible met with the logical but.
I think of Zechariah when the angel told him that his elderly wife (and Mary’s cousin) would give birth to John the Baptizer. “But she is old!” The impossible greeted by the sensible but.
And each time God’s response through the angel was “Don’t be afraid. I will be with you.” Or, in other words, “Trust me. I have a plan.”
There are countless other examples that I would love to study and observe. All of them snapshots of the human condition of not being able to get our tiny minds around the vast imagination of God.
And yet, as the angel said to Mary regarding both her pregnancy and her elderly cousin’s pregnancy, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
There is a story of a father who is desperately pleading with Jesus for his son’s release from demon possession. He used the phrase “if you can do anything”. Chances were, his son whom he’d taken to others for healing and who had wrestled with this possession for years, would once again come away disappointed. But he was in the presence of Jesus Himself, the ruler over not only the physical but also the spiritual realm.
“If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
I absolutely love what the father said next, because it’s what I hear my own heart saying in my own life today:
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
We desperately want to believe that the impossible is possible with God. But we fall prey to letting our small box of human possibility dictate our belief system. Our big buts get in the way of our childlike faith in the miracle magic of God. Our fear yells over the whisper of God saying to us, “Don’t be afraid. I am here. I have a plan” And somehow, we are content to live in the bland experience of possible and deny ourselves the vision of God’s impossible.
BUT…:-)…let’s commit to learning to live differently. To rest in the promise of His presence and on the precipice of impossibility. Let’s hear His voice and respond without hesitation or fear or “but” and trust that His plan is bigger than we can imagine and that if He chooses to use us that all we need to offer is our faith and availability. He will do the rest. No ifs, ands or BUTS…
Exodus 3 and 6