Any mother who has ever had whiny kids has learned to hate the word "but." It seems to be the instant response to any request or command I make. Me: You need to pick up your dirty socks. My kids: But I can't! I have to do my homework! Five minutes later, I'll remind them to do their homework. But I can't. I have to pick up my dirty socks!
Unfortunately, this attitude sticks with many of us, even as adults.
Try these on for size:
I know I should serve God…
…but Sunday's my only day to sleep in. I work all week long and need a break.
…but I don't have time. My to-do list is a mile long.
…but I don't feel like it. I’ve had a bad week.
…but what will everyone think of me? It’s not cool to be a Christian.
…but I don't want to read my Bible — I’m more interested in the new People magazine that came in the mail today.
…but I can't afford it — tithes are too much, and we need new tires and gas prices keep going up.
…but He doesn't need my help. He's God. What do I have to offer that he can’t do for himself? God can handle things on his own.
…but somebody else can do it. They’ll be better at it than I am.
…but I just don't feel like it. I don't feel like being social, putting on decent clothes, curling my hair and having to smile at people.
It's true; I don't always feel like it. I’m not qualified. And it’s not always easy. With all I've been through lately, I could probably get away with using that as an excuse. However, I need to stop letting my but get in the way. Our pastor first preached this to us years ago, and it was so catchy that we made t-shirts with that emblazoned on them. This morning, though, I started thinking about my but again. Yes, I've gained weight over the years and I'm not the size I want to be. That butt gets in the way of wearing a size 12. But the other but is so much more problematic. We need to remove that negative word from our vocabularies, unless we pair it with another, very powerful word: but God.
I may be tired, but God never sleeps. I may be weak, but God is strong. I may not feel like getting up and getting ready, but God was able to carry his cross and suffer, so this is nothing compared to that. I may not know the right thing to do, but God always does. I may not know what to pray, but God intercedes for us. I may not have enough energy or motivation, I may have many failings, I may simply be in a bad mood, and maybe I am going through genuine tragedies in my own life. All that may be true, but this is more true: God is still God. He is still worthy. He is still powerful. He is still mighty, and benevolent, and filled with grace and forgiveness. I may not want to do my part sometimes, but God is always, always worth the effort. Man fails, man flees, and man destroys, but God delivers, God protects, and God restores. He rewards my sacrifices. No more buts, no more flimsy excuses. From now on, I’ll continue to remember the phrase I can trust: but God.