When children are small, they seem to have a curious fascination with climbing things. Perhaps there is a sense of power with climbing to unreachable heights, or a deep sense of fulfillment with the accomplishment of the impossible. Whatever the case, the greater challenge is not discovered in the climb, but rather in the descent. I can still vividly recall a day when my children were toddlers and I could hear them giggling while playing in the dining room. The tones of their giggles told me it was something I needed to inspect. When I entered the room, I was amazed to see my son hanging from the chandelier above the dining room table. After spinning on the chandelier for a few moments, the chandelier came loose from the ceiling. Believing that a great tragedy was about to occur, I yelled to my son, “You better get down!” He quickly replied, “But dad…!” With those words, hope was found for my son as the responsibility was shifted to my shoulders to secure his safety.
As I listen to the voices of many Christians when their lives are in distress, they seem to echo more fears and doubts than faith and confidence. You seem to hear such phrases as, “If God…,” “Why God?” and “Where’s God?” However, I want to introduce your heart to two words found in Scripture that are the difference between victory and defeat, success and failure, faith and cowardice. Notice from Genesis to Revelation, in the most distressing of times, the pivotal moment that defined a life or nation occurred with the words, “but God.” Joseph was sold into slavery and forgotten, “but God was with him.” Epaphroditus was sick unto death, “but God had mercy on him.” Enemies thought they had brought an end to Jesus on the cross, “but God raised Him from the dead.” Great spiritual lives did not become great on their own exploits, but rather through many experiences of faith that can only be explained as a “but God” moment. You can choose to look at life from many angles, but are you conditioned to look for “but God…”?
“But God…” speaks of His timely intervention. In Judges 15, Samson has just defeated a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. The battle was exhausting, and Samson was now thirsting to death. “But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout.” There are times when it appears the Lord remains more idle than our impatient heart can take. However, when He moves, He wastes no time to deliver the need of our crisis! It took Joseph many years to finally realize, “ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good.” Saul tried for years to kill David, “but God delivered him not into his hand.” Just when life reaches the peak of impossibility, “but God…” rescues, restores and revives hope that enables you to dream again. Regardless of what life brings into our path, we can count on the words of I Corinthians 10:13, “but God is faithful.” The Lord is fully aware of what hangs in the balance with our lives and promises to meet it with “but God…”
“But God…” speaks of His tender intimacy. If there is one thing common to all of our lives it is the fact we have met face-to-face with mistakes, failures and sin. Without a “but God…”, we are all forced to face life helplessly and hopelessly. Romans 5:8 reminds us that even while we were in a fallen and sinful state, “but God commendeth His love toward us.” What grace! What hope! What healing! I will never understand such love, but perhaps the psalmist said it best in Psalm 73:26: “My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart.” “But God…” is not the mere deliverance of answers to prayer, nor the display of awesome power. “But God…” is the manifestation of the Lord Himself consuming us with His love! A love that cannot be seen is a love that cannot be shared.
“But God…” speaks of His trusted influence. In Exodus 13, when the Lord delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, there was a route of passage that would have made sense on paper to have taken. However, verse 18 records, “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness.” The route of choice appeal would have led to chaos and catastrophe, “but God” directed a path that would produce a greater revelation of Himself at the Red Sea. How many times were we moving in one direction, “but God…”? How many decisions were we about to make, “but God…”? As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:27, the world may never understand our choices and decisions, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” God’s way is always right and never lacks for accuracy.
Although they are two very small words in the framework of Scripture, “but God” is to our lives what helium is to a balloon. These words have carried men and women to incredible spiritual heights. However, to ascend unto such lofts without the encounter of a “but God”, will leave us simply hanging from the ceiling.
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© Alan Stewart, 2006.
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.