I am a but man and proud of it. Every time I read the Bible I find another great but. Its been a passion since I was a child. Over thirty-five summers ago my Grandfather Franklin taught me the importance of the seemingly small conjunction.
That July was unusually hot in Alpena, Michigan. As a ten year old I was dreaming about a day of being knocked over by the waves of Lake Huron. Grandfather had another idea.
“Boy, get your shoes on, we have to get those tomatoes out of the garden before they burn up.”
I would have normally jumped at the chance to get out of his house because it had that smell of Aqua Velva and Vicks Vapor Rub, but I didn’t want to work outside, I wanted to swim.
“Pa, I really would like to help, but…”
He cut me off. “But what boy?”
I remember looking at his lips move and his false teeth staying put. I guess he didn’t use enough of whatever he used to make them stick. I tried, unsuccessfully, not to smile.
“You think that’s funny boy? I can see right now I’m going to have to straighten your but out.”
Once I figured out what form of the word he was referring to, I found out my but was the cue for my heart to speak and that it was the most important word in my vocabulary.
“Boy, whatever follows your but defines who you are. You‘ll either be a man of faith, or a man of excuses. If you don’t believe me you can read it in the Bible.”
I didn’t go swimming that day, but I heard a lot about buts, and picked a bunch of tomatoes.
Even now when I read God’s word, I am amazed at the power and beauty of His peoples’ buts. One of the more classic examples is in Psalms 3:1. “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, there is no help for him in God. BUT thou, O Lord, art a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head.”
David’s but was actually a weapon more mighty than any spear he ever threw or sword he swung. It was the vehicle he used to launch his faith. His but testified he knew God.
I believe the most powerful but in scripture was uttered by Jesus. It would release all the events that led to the cross, His resurrection and ascension to Heaven. Without it, we would have no salvation or hope.
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was time. One of the strongest words He ever used on earth was about to be released. Jesus got down on His knees a stones throw from His sleeping disciples. He prayed so earnestly, an Angel from heaven came to strengthen Him. Luke 22:44 says, ”…His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” It was there, Jesus spoke the but that would change the world.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, BUT yours.”
Can you imagine Satan after hearing that?
“What did he say? Did Jesus pray, ‘but yours‘?”
He had to know he lost right there, because he would not be fighting against the life of Jesus anymore, but the will of God. The same holds true for us believers. When we surrender to the will of God, the enemy is not fighting against us anymore. “…not my will, but yours.”
I believe the greatest but in the Bible, belongs to the person reading it. John 14:12 says: “…anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even GREATER things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Just imagine how GREAT our buts can be.
Years after my grandfather passed away I flew back to Michigan and had, “but Jesus said“, engraved on his tombstone. I think he would have liked that. He didn’t leave me a million dollars, however getting my “but straightened out” was one of the greatest things I ever learned. As a grandfather now, I’m teaching my grandson to be a but man, however we talk on the white sandy beaches of North Florida and not in a tomato patch.
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