Have you ever stood on the edge of the pages of your life and just shake your head in complete bewilderment and think one simple word, “HOW.” Then the rest of the frustration comes tumbling out. “How will this happen?” “How on earth can this be accomplished?” It is my tendency to face a situation and say “but God, this ….” and continue to whine, and explain all the obstacles, the ‘can’t dos.’ He, in His gracious manner pulls me back to … His word.
Believe it or not, ‘…but God … ‘ (or ‘….but the Lord’) is mentioned 326 times in the Bible. I have sat myself down with headset on, iPod set for slow worship, while I sipped my Grande peppermint hot chocolate and for the next 3-4 hours I looked up every one of those 326 verses, reading the context and re-familiarizing myself with the story, highlighting ‘but God’ in each verse. In this study, I was captured, captivated. I saw God’s character being placed in the forefront. There were loud moments of reassurance and yet quiet whispers of His love. This is what I found, this is what I learned.
I begin with Genesis 3:9. Adam and Eve are in the garden. 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. Following Eves conversation with the creepy serpent, she is deceived, offering the fruit to Adam, he too chooses to eat. God is now coming for their daily walk together. The couple hides. “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?‘” (Gen. 3:9) God calls. He knew very well where they were, the question was intended for them, to consider their location, their position and condition before Him. God is still calling. Where are YOU? I find it fascinating that God didn’t design us with a natural camouflage, He’d see us regardless.
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.” Are you too being tossed about, do flood waters surround you? God remembers. This doesn’t mean you temporarily slipped His mind, it means He will act on His promise to you. In His love, He will blow winds your way and cause the waters to decrease. Just wait, God remembers.
A man by the name of Jacob 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, and last night He rebuked you.” God has seen. In the original Hebrew, the word ‘seen’ is an imperative, meaning we add a strong EXCLAMATION mark next to it. Not only that, but it is in the prolonged form, God has seen and will continue to see. He sees us where we are, how we are and how we are being treated. He will intervene, protect and defend. God sees!
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 accomplishes. He redeems 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! (Judges 6)
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, he isthe 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. (1 Sam. 16:7)
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) 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 extreme 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’. (see Heb. 11:6)
God calls, remembers, sees our hardships, accomplishes, is our peace and sees our heart. What circumstances are we facing today? Do we find ourselves needing one or ALL of these. May we remember, to trust the Lord, smother ourselves up again in 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)