One thing I’ve realized more of lately is the power of music. Music, at least for me, is more potent than penicillin for pain; more filling than food for thought; more rushing than a sugar high; and more soothing than sleep. I’ve been extremely vulnerable to influence via cadence my entire life, and especially the last few weeks. When I’m lonely, the minor chords resonate in my chest like they’ve known me since grade school. Similar to wrapping myself up in the arms of a friend, I feel surrounded with courage when an uplifting song graces my ears. On the other hand, I can slip into somber thoughts when I hear songs I’ve associated with the skeletons in my closet. Some songs, I’m sure you have them too, are loaded: double-barreled, catchy and cruel at once. Songs like these I need to remove from my playlist, at least for now. Otherwise, I’m at the mercy of the DJ. Like the waves, he doesn’t give a hoot for my requests, but plays and splashes as he wills. This leaves me short of breath and sputtering salt water in surprise.
Arguably the two most powerful words in the Scriptures (save for “the cross,” “the gospel,” “set free,” and “unconditional love” of course!). But God is a “but God” kind of God. He relishes the opportunity to surprise human kind. He is quick to pick us up, out of the dirt. He is quick to demonstrate His power in our greatest weakness. He is quick to redeem, turning our “mess” into His “message.”
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus the following anthem concerning God’s work of grace and mercy as the foundation for life transformation:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (2:1-5, ESV)
I cannot emphasize enough the power of “but God” in the human story. Contrarily, the majority would seem to emphasize the opposite refrain: “but I.” One “but I” emphasis boasts of human accomplishment and potential…
“But I… have done more good in my life than bad…”
“But I… am not as evil as that person…”
“But I… have a 4.0 GPA…”
The other side of the coin is similarly deceitful:
“But I….am SO far gone I can’t be redeemed…”
“But I…don’t believe God could use me as much as her/him…”
“But I…am not the best person for the job…”
Both of these statements miss the mark because, simply, they are focused on US, ME, I. The Scriptures, rather, focus on Christ, not us. It is Christ who saves us. Honestly, if we could’ve saved ourselves, we would’ve by now. We cannot save ourselves, we don’t have the willpower, capacity, perseverance, goodness, etc. But God does! He reaches down to us wherever we are and says “you can’t do it… but I can. Will you accept my invitation to an intimate and everlasting relationship?” No matter what our “but I” statements look like, “but God” always, ALWAYS conquers.
Will you take a moment to identify your “but I” statements, and ask God to reveal to you His “but God” answers?