The Big BUT
This post was inspired by one of my group home clients. He is consistently asking questions. The funniest, and sometimes, most frustrating thing is when he asks himself questions. He will say something like, “If Steve (name changed for privacy) doesn’t touch anybody then Steve will get a pop.” This is funny, but it also creates a problem. He was promised that if he doesn’t touch anyone he would get a pop. When time goes by and Steve doesn’t receive a pop he begins to get anxious. After dinner he will ask when will he receive his reward? When staff says, “You do not get a pop.” He begins to throw more questions like, “But I didn’t touch anybody. Why can’t I have one? Did I hit someone Travis?”
The problem to us is obvious. I never promised a pop to Steve. Steve promised a pop to Steve. Not only that, Steve can’t deliver what Steve wants. When Steve realizes this he has to insert the big “but”. We, as Christians, tend to do this. We know what we want so we try our best to please God so he will grant our wish. We assume that God should give what we want. However, we can’t deliver what we want. Only God can. This is when we start with the “buts”.
“I have followed your commands BUT you aren’t giving me what you promised.” All the while God is saying, “I didn’t promise you those things. You did.”
I like how Bryn MacPhail speaks about this concept in prayer:
What do I mean by that– ‘misuse of prayer’? What I mean is that some Christians talk about prayer in much the same way people talk about magic. Some Christians take verses like John 14:13, “whatever you ask in My name, that will I do“, and begin to treat God like some celestial wish-granter with their prayers.
When we pray ‘in the name of Jesus’ it is not some incantation where we pray, ‘God, do this . . . in the name Jesus’, and then God goes, ‘Ah shucks, they said the magic phrase! . . . This is going to mess up everything we are doing in the kingdom, and now we have to answer this prayer.’
Often this is how we view God. He is a genie that must bend to our will’s desires. This is not how God operates. God does loves the interaction that he has with his children but he also gives us a clear understanding of how this works in 1 John 5:14:
And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. -NET
It is God’s will that we should be concerned with. Not our own. When we ask God in accordance with his will then we can be assured that he hears us. This completely eliminates the big “but” because we are working in accordance to God’s will and not our own. When we are like Steve we are only looking for selfish fulfillment. When we are like Christ we are looking to God and we are concerned with what God is concerned about. And that is his glory.
All of us need to eliminate the big BUT by resting in God’s promises and not our own promises.