I’m old enough to have heard a certain song referencing sizable posteriors ad nauseum in middle school. Maybe you’re old enough to know the reference? What I’m thinking about today is an entirely differently “but;” it is also big despite its small length.
I remember learning in school about the connecting words: and, or, and but. We learned we could combine sentences with these simple words. Suddenly, the sentence becomes complex.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned the hidden power of the word, “but.” That simple word negates the entire sentence that came before it. It’s probably common knowledge. However, I didn’t realize how much that changed sentences and meaning. It also changes how I look at conversations or weigh what I am saying, both in print and in speaking and how I hear others speak and write.
The thing is, it is universal. I can mean one thing, and by adding that one little word, I change the meaning of my sentence. I can be having a nice conversation with a friend, and with that one little word, I slip into gossip. “I like her, BUT…” The difference between a conversation and gossip is so minute.
Jesus calls people to follow him. Some seem to jump at the opportunity, eager to follow Jesus. Then comes the word, “BUT.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62
How do we stop the “BUT?” How do I stop saying one thing and meaning another? How do I turn from following Jesus in word but not in deed? I want to follow You, Lord, but first I need to clean my house or raise my children. In reality, I’m not following at all as soon as that “but” enters the conversation.
The time to follow Jesus is here and now, in the midst of the chaos, in the center of the to-do list. It doesn’t come after the kids are raised and my career is a success, all done by my own power and in my own control.
Without Jesus, I am nothing. With Him, I can do all things. First, though, I need to get rid of the “but.” I need to let go of control. I need to give Him the control, let Him lead.
Then and only then, I will be truly following Him.
Amy is a “cradle” Catholic who is trying to learn more about God and her faith every day. She is a wife and mom, trying to raise her children to know God. She works part-time as a pharmacist and leads a moms’ group and bible study at her church.