If your momma was anything like mine, when she gave a directive it was to be followed quickly and without argument. My mom was a strict, but loving disciplinarian…we could use more of that in our society, but I digress. I remember when I was little telling mom, “but” anytime she gave me direction. She would respond by saying, “no buts, do it”.
Our lives are filled with “but” situations. Normally that word predicates an excuse. Perhaps an excuse to our spouse, our boss, or even ourselves. We say “but” to everything and everyone. Including God. There are certainly times in my life I felt God say, “no buts, just do it”. There are other moments, I felt Him say, “fine have it your way”. See my “but” was so frequent and my argument so firm, He eventually let me have what I wanted…normally to my detriment I might add.
As negative as “but” can be in the English language, it can also be a remarkable positive and a firm foundation for our faith. Every believer struggles with our role and God’s sovereignty. Where does one end and one begin. Perhaps you could say God’s sovereignty and our free-will. See now I’ve gone all theological on you. Trials in this life frequently bring us to a “but” moment. “But God”. “But why?” “But you said…” On and on it goes.
Nearing a decade ago, God’s sovereignty hit close to home. Our faith tradition is one that believes in the infinite power of our God and that He still performs miracles. When He chooses to and does not is according to His sovereign plan. Well, until it’s personal and He does not do what we want. When my mom passed away from cancer 10 years ago, we all prayed and we said a lot of “buts” to God. “But she has been faithful.” “But she has faith to be healed.” Still she passed and the Lord reminded us in a powerful word (see 1 Cor 12 and 14) that mom belonged to Him not us and He would do as He felt best.
In moments like these we fall headlong into our belief in God and His sovereignty. We must determine, will my faith be shaken by this or will I trust the Lord even with my “buts”. There is a remarkably powerful verse in the book of Daniel. One of my favorites. The three Hebrew children faced a fiery furnace.
Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” NLT (emphasis mine) In the KJV it says, “but if not”.
The Hebrew children fully believed in God’s power to save them. They also believed that it was God’s sovereignty that would determine their outcome. They willingly submitted to His will and fully expected to be delivered. If they were not, their faith would still not be shaken. In our life of faith, especially in the current western-brand of faith, we seem to lose sight of God’s sovereignty. We are reminded day in and day out of what we deserve or what is owed to us. Often this sentiment pulls through to our walk with God.
Can He heal? Absolutely and I will continue to believe He will. Can He rescue you from a tough situation? Certainly, believe that He will. Go a step further and say, “He can, but even if He does not, I will still serve Him”! The enemy wants to shake your faith in God’s sovereignty and move you to a place of “if He does not, then I will not serve Him”. If my mom has any knowledge of what goes on in this earthly realm, she is rejoicing that our faith was not shaken by her death. In fact, it gained strength. After all, she taught my brother and I this faith from our first breaths on earth. Our family rests in the sovereign will and grace of our God. That is tough! But let’s be honest, I don’t really want to be in control anyway. Remember, there is power in your “buts”. Use them wisely.