Ever wake up, look in the mirror and either shrug your shoulders or gaze deeply into your own eyes, asking “What now?” I did, this morning. I am in a huge transition in my life, from family, ministry, to needing to find a job outside of the home. These all can be rather frustrating in themselves, but throw them ALL in the kitty, and well… shrug.
This morning in my devotion time, I was taken to Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him, whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” I asked God, to show me ‘trust’. The image that came to mind was, me getting so close to God, that my face is pressed up against His presence so tight, THAT (He) is all I can see.
It is my tendency to still say “but God, this ….” and continue to whine, and explain myself to Him. He, in His gracious (get in MY face ) manner, reminded me of a study I did awhile back, nothing like God calling me on my ‘but God’ challenge.
Revisiting … But God.
Believe it or not, ‘but God’ (or ‘but the Lord’) is mentioned 326 times in the New International Version. Recently I went to my office (Starbucks) and sat myself down with headset on, iPod set for slow worship, while I sipped my grandee peppermint hot chocolate and for the next 2 hours I looked up every one of those 326 verses, highlighting ‘but God’ in each verse. KNOWING somehow, I too would be prone to experience all 326 opportunities for God to come declare, reveal, and rebuke in my life, (these, I’m sure will happen at times all in one day – smile). Ever have a day like that, God is so thick and all over you, there is nothing ‘but God’.
In this study, I was captured, I saw God’s character being placed in the forefront, as NOT to miss it. There were LOUD moments of reassurance, and yet quiet whispers of His love. I can not forget to mention God’s bold reminders for the call to obedience.
This is what I found, this is what I learned. (don’t worry, I am NOT going to cover all 326 verses – phew! )
I must begin with Genesis 3:9. Adam and Eve are in the garden with the Lord. What a life! Can you imagine, all you ever wanted, needed and the presence of God so intimate that He literally takes walks with you. BUT! There is a saying that is so prevalent in our society today, I believe it comes from this Genesis scene… ‘life happens’ (daily choices that steer our destiny not to mention the rest of mankind). Adam and Eve have just made some very poor choices (to say the least). God is now coming for their daily walk together, the couple, hides. “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ God calls. He knew very well where they were, the question was intended for them, to consider their location, their position before Him. God is still calling. Where are you? (I will leave us ..thinking)
Now the next ‘but God…’ in Genesis. The waters were high and a large hand built boat was tossed back and forth, a man and his family all alone among the precious cargo of every kind of animal created by God. Obedience led them to this completely unknown. Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” God remembers. He will send a wind to our circumstance, His wind and resolve the flood in our life.
Next, a man by the name of Jacob, he worked hard as requested and then was treated unfairly by his father-in-law. Genesis 31:42 “But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands...” God sees. He sees us where we are, how we are and how we are being treated. He will intervene, protect and defend.
Now Joseph, the cocky favored son, who was thrown in a pit, sold as a slave by FAMILY MEMBERS! Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, and the saving of many lives.” God intends. He intends to redeem the bad and transform for good to accomplish His plan.
Gideon, one of my all time favorites. the guy was just trying to survive, doing his job, when the angel of the LORD came to him. The angel addresses him with, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior”. Gideon responds with his own ‘but Sir’. As the conversation progresses, Gideon becomes quite fearful, as God lays out the plan He has for him. God reassures him with “But the LORD said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid…” Peace. We may be fearful, full of anxiety. But God – Peace!.
Moving on, Samuel is called to anoint the next king over Israel. He looks down the line up of the sons of Jesse, he sees Eliab, the oldest, tall and looks kingly. Yet. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘ do not consider his appearance or his height. the LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart“. God looks at the heart. He sees us on the inside, we may not seem to be much on the outside, but it is the inner man He is concerned about. A heart for Him.
David, you have to love this guy! He was minding his own business out tending the sheep and then ‘WHAM!’ he is thrown into a whirl wind life of ‘stuff’. Let me explain. After being anointed to be the next king of Israel, the chapters of his life grow extremely intense. The current king, Saul is not a happy camper about this anointed David, and seeks to kill him. 1 Samuel 23:14 “David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.” God does not completely give over something (someone) that is His, He may open His hands to the elements for a time, but.. His word says, He is a ‘jealous God’, and in this means, His zeal (motivated by love) for us is strong. Stronger than any wrath, stronger than any attempts made on our lives, either physical or spiritual, or emotional. The ‘but God’ will stand in our behalf.
Later in David’s life, he wanted to build a large structure to house the ark of God. He had the blue prints, and builders summoned to begin building, yet 1 Chronicles 28:3 ‘But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood'” God says. We may have a plan, a good plan, but God may have something to say to say about it. Notice also, God points out that David was not a builder, he is a warrior. We too, may be called and gifted to be one thing by Him, yet picture ourselves as another (hm…food for thought).
Amazing, just amazing. the word is FULL, of examples like these.
But the LORD was my support (2 Sam. 22:19)
But the LORD was gracious to them (2 Kings 13:23)
But the LORD is their refuge (Ps. 14:6)
But the LORD delivers him (Ps. 34:19)
But the LORD upholds the righteous (Ps. 37:17)
But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer (Ps. 66:19)
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:26)
But God knows your hearts (Luke 16:15)
But God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead (Acts 2:24) – Hallelujah !
But God promised (Acts 7:5)
But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit, (the deep things of God) (1 Cor. 2:10)
I (Paul) planted the seed, Apollos watered it, But God made it grow (1 Cor.3:6)
But God, who comforts the downcast (2 Cor. 7:6)
But God had mercy on him (Phil. 2:27)
But God is the builder of everything (Heb. 3:4)
I have learned much! Just two words. placing the insignificant particle word ‘but’ and attach it to God. POWER! I revisited principles such as, God is incredible, He is never late, always on time, and never ignores, and is extremely attentive to details, details of our lives. He is concerned more for our welfare than our comfort, and goes to extremes at times to make sure we hear Him. I did notice that 15 times alone in the book of Genesis God made sure they got the ‘but God’, establishing right up front, at the very beginning that ..‘He is’.
God calls, remembers, sees, intends, looks, does not hand over what is His, and God says! Do we find ourselves needing one or ALL of these qualities of God. May we all remember, to ‘trust’ the Lord, smother ourselves up again His presence, trading OUR, ‘But God…’ full of complaint and whining, for HIS … ‘But God’.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we many spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” ~ Hebrews 10:24)