BUT GOD                                                                                                                                         Andy Hollifield 8-26-17

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Acts 13:30 ….But God raised him from the dead:

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

But God! Anytime you see those two words it means that someone is fixing to see a major change in whatever the situation is. When you see the phrase “but God,” someone is fixing to experience the opposite of what they may be seeing now. That phrase occurs 43 times in scripture. In the first scripture I used in Ephesians 2, verse 3 talks about that in times past our main focus was fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and the mind, just like other folks were. Then it says in verse 4, “But God.” Then the scripture begins to talk about what a difference God’s love and mercy has made in our life because of the grace of Christ. Paul goes on in verse 6 to talk about how that because of that mercy and grace, he has made us to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” In verse 7, it says that in the future he plans to “show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us.” Verse 8 says that his kindness is made possible by grace and nothing that we have done but it is a gift of God and verse 9 says it is not because of any works we have done but because of what God has done in us in verse 10. All of that grace came to us for one reason; “But God!”

As you read on in Ephesians 2, Paul goes on to remind us again of what we once were, what we used to be until, “But God.” Those two words have been the turning point in many lives. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” In verse 9 he had talked about the things he used to do including his persecution of the church before God’s grace and mercy came into his life. A popular acronym for grace sums up its work very accurately. It says that grace is “God’s Redemption At Christ’ Expense.” That sums it up real well. Christ paid for God’s grace and mercy with his life. It cost him the ultimate price for you and I to be able to experience the Grace of God.

As I began to think about these two words, “But God”, I thought about a lot of different situations and trials in my life. As I went over each one in my mind, I realized that every one of them ended with,”But God.” At some point, no matter how bad things had gotten or how hopeless they may have appeared to be, they all changed and improved with these 2 words “But God.” I thought back about my kidney transplant in 1983 and the high fever I ran when my kidney rejected and the order had been written to remove my kidney and there was a high likelihood of brain damage due to the fever, “But God”. Nothing else can explain the turn of those events and the end result except “But God”. I thought about the time in 1995 when my wife suffered the miscarriage of our first child. I thought about how hard of a time she had conceiving and our age and past health history and how fearful we were that we would never have another opportunity for a family. I thought about how hopeless and heartbroken we were. I remember over the next few months worrying that my wife was going to have a nervous breakdown because of how consumed with grief she was. I remember talking to my dad about how concerned I was and asking him to pray that God would let us have a child before she went out of her mind with grief. Nothing happened immediately and just when it looked like all hope was gone; “But God!” He allowed her to conceive again and after a troubled pregnancy, our son Tyler was born in 1997. He didn’t replace our first child and the hurt and loss is still there, “But God” brought comfort when he allowed us to have Tyler.

Things were not a bed of roses and as everyone with any age behind them knows, life is not a fairy tale and doesn’t really end with “and they lived happily ever after”. There is always another trial and another hardship right around the corner. “But God” and his grace will get you through every one of them. Later on, we received the autism diagnosis and once again were shaken to our core and scared to death because it was something we knew nothing about. Once we learned a little we were even more scared. Then came the time when Tyler was still a baby that we had the meningitis scare. It seemed hopeless and looked like we were going to lose the child we had wanted so desperately, “But God” seen fit to intervene and the doctors explained it away as a reaction to some medicine he had been off of for two weeks. My idea has always been that when we left the urgent care at the end of Leicester highway, he had menengitis. Somewhere between that Saturday afternoon and Tuesday morning, things changed. The doctors hadn’t given us a good prognosis “but God” came in that hospital and done a healing work that only he could do.

We had one major concern from the time Tyler was a baby all the way until he was nearly 7 years old. Tyler was non verbal. We had learned to evaluate the situation and could usually figure out what he was trying to say or what he needed. We were terrified when he had to start school unable to talk. Although we prayed earnestly that God would let him start talking before he got in school, it never happened. “but God” put people in his life that took a special liking to Tyler and treated and cared for him as they would have their own child. One of our concerns during those years was his ability to learn. We were afraid that since he couldn’t talk, he would never be able to learn to read. “But God” placed a couple of Special Education teachers in his life that loved him and saw his potential. Teresa Shehan, his kindergarten teacher had the guts when I asked her if Tyler was ready for first grade, to tell me that she didn’t think he could handle it yet. I thanked her and told her that I agreed with her opinion and to definitely hold him back one more year. That was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Tyler greatly improved in a lot of ways that next year. As his teacher once put it, “he blossomed”. Tyler wound up with a teacher named Cindy Gailey for most of his elementary school years. She loved Tyler so much that she postponed her retirement until he was out of elementary school. By about age 7 he had started talking and in her class, he once again flourished and she even taught him to read. Now he reads almost as good as his mom and I. He started out with a lot of strikes against him in life “But God” had plans on making a special person out of him that would draw people to him. Even though one of the main characteristics of autism is an unwillingness to interact socially, Tyler has broken the mold on that one. He can call people out at church that have never sung in front of anyone before and they will sing with him just because he asked them. There is a middle-aged cashier at our local Ingles grocery store that has to have a hug every time she sees him. Wherever he goes people are drawn to him. That is a gift from God.

I could go on and on but I have already went longer than I planned on. If you look at your own life I am sure you will find a lot of circumstances that looked hopeless and should have turned out a lot different “But God” intervened and fixed things in a way you never thought possible. I am truly thankful for all those time when things seemed impossible for a good outcome “But God” saw fit to intervene on my behalf. I hope this has been a help to you and will encourage you to “keep on keeping on”. It may look bad for you right now, “But God” has the power to turn things in a totally different direction for you anytime he wants to. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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