“No buts it’s got to be butter!” went the old advert for a leading butter brand. ‘But’ is a useful word, signalling a change or emphasis in a sentence: “I admire the tenacity of Boris Johnson, but it might be time to let go?”
But ‘but’ can also be used too much and applied to stop or hold things up. A Scottish preacher had a sermon called ‘The Buts of Life’. He described the many ‘excuses’ we summon to stop obeying God and living Jesus Way of caring service and sacrifice. He took this sermon to the USA and was puzzled, and later embarrassed, when he realised that ‘butts’ can mean something very different there. He preached and ploughed headlong into blind hilarity describing the excuses people use, “Some of us have small butts, others big butts, while some of us think we have no butts at all!”
But my preacher friend was trying to make a vital point, that ‘there are to be no ‘buts’ in living God’s Way. Dedicated devotion and free flowing love require the ruthless ejection of selfish excuses that divert us from doing what God wants. For example: forgiveness.
It grieves and breaks my heart how many families and relationships are broken and how many ‘buts’ get in the way of giving and receiving forgiveness. We say sorry to someone for something and then try to explain or justify our behaviour, big ‘buts’ which block undiluted sorrow and make it harder for the offended person to forgive. And then, when we’re offended, finding reasons to withhold forgiveness, buts which may be justified but which get in the way of allowing the forgiveness we have received from God reaching others through us. For as long as we pray the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our sins (debts / trespasses) as we forgive those who sin against us.” We must beware excuses which turn us into hypocrites.
Are some buts appearing in your thoughts as you ponder the gift and challenge of forgiveness? We need to get over ourselves and centre life and living in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. The ‘Footprints’ poem continues to be a fond favourite as we appreciate Jesus’ commitment to carrying us through tough times. But, beware ‘buts & butts’:
Butt Prints In The Sand
One night I had a wondrous dream, One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord, But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared, And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat, “But Lord they are too big for feet.”
“My child,” He said in somber tones, “For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith, But you refused and made me wait.”
“You disobeyed, you would not grow, The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up, and there I dropped you on your butt.”
“Because in life, there comes a time, when one must fight, and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand, or leave their butt prints in the sand.”
Are we ready to get off our buts and butts to prove God’s Grace, Mercy, Love, Hope, Peace & Forgiveness at work in our lives? Do I hear a ‘But!’ or an ‘Amen!’