But God #5
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. -- Psalm 73:21-28; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)
Please, go back and slowly soak in those verses above; they are simply beautiful.
My two-year-old, Rachel, does this really cute thing all the time; she will say, "I'm a girl. You are a boy, Daddy." I don't know why she does it, but it's cute! She'll also call someone's name out and indicate their gender as well. For example, she'll say, "Katie's a girl. Mommy's a girl. Daddy's a boy." None of this is relevant to today's devotion; I'm just a dad that loves his little girl.
Perhaps I thought of that because I was thinking of people that knew who and what they were. Rachel is very petite for her age. Just as she notes gender differences she will also indicate size differences. She will say, "I'm little, but I'm a big girl. You big, Daddy!" She also reminds me that, "You got a big belly, Daddy." (Then she'll slap me on my belly! GREAT FUN!)
I love it when Rachel grabs my finger to lead me somewhere (jabbering all along the way). My finger fills her entire little hand. The other night Rachel came into my office, led me into Katie's room, and said, "I need the stool." It's a little stool, so I said, "You can move that. You don't need me!" To wit, Rachel replied, "You big, Daddy. You can do it."
I love moments like that! It's not that Rachel necessarily needed me, it's that she wanted me. She was strong enough, but preferred my ability over her own. (Conversely, I hate it when I KNOW she is just being lazy!)
All of that may just be "daddy talk", but my kids get me to thinking about my heavenly Father a lot of the time. It's a comforting thought to think at times: "You are God. I am not." Also, I often think, "I just need You, Dad...I just need You." I want to get to the point that Rachel is; she calls on me as much when she WANTS me as when she NEEDS me. To the average little girl her dad represents much of her world. I want to come to the point when my Dad is ALL of my world.
That's the sentiment I see in today's passage. The average little girl is often surprised to find out that her dad can't do some things. The average little Christian (like me) seems to be surprised when they realize God CAN do something! Dads, like me, are VERY limited. My heavenly Dad is not!
So, where does this fit in with the "But God" theme we have been pursuing? It is the very comforting realization that the exact moment that every thing that makes up all that we are becomes exhausted is the same moment that we just begin to realize where God begins. The Psalmist was saying, "I may run out of energy; I may run out of good health; I may run out of ideas; I may run out...BUT GOD never will!"
It is the realization that we should come to, NOT when we have become exhausted, but BEFORE! We all know our weaknesses; that's no secret. Do we always realize our strengths? When we count those strengths (or if we count them), where do we number God in them?
I love John Gill's commentary on verse 26: "when overwhelmed with distress through outward trouble, or in the lowest condition with respect to spiritual things; when grace is weak, corruptions strong, temptations prevail, and afflictions are many; then does the Lord support and sustain His people, and strengthens them with strength in their souls; and in the moment of death, by showing them that its sting is taken away, and its curse removed; that their souls are going to their Lord, and about to enter into His joy; and that their bodies will rise again glorious and incorruptible". When all is lost there is always the "But God" factor!
When I face poverty I won't fear; though I may see no provision I can victoriously say, "But God!" When I face weakness, and see no strength dawning, I may securely say, "BUT GOD!" When the chips are down, when the white flag is being unfurled, when my knees buckle and my heart faints I may say with faith-filled confidence "BUT GOD".
Likewise, when my energy abounds, when the bank account is full, when life's sails are full of wind and no storm is in sight I can lovingly say "BUT GOD!"
I tell you friends, I get to the end of myself and the cable of hope from which I securely hang is the "But God" of His infinite ability. It is necessary for me to draw near God in my need. It is better to draw near Him in my abundance. That is to say, I want to depend on God even when my resources have not been spent! I want to depend on Him more than ANY OTHER THING ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET! I want to testify with the Psalmist, And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. What praise it must bring God when we cling to Him because of "desire" just as much as we cling in times of desperation.
I have made Him my refuge, even before danger comes. I have made Him my all, because my own all is nothing compared to Him and useless without Him.
Like Rachel wants her dad, though her ability is enough, I want to want my Father to be a part of all that I do. Even when I can, I want to consider how much more I could be if I would consider and involve "But God".
It is in the moments of fellowship we enjoy with Him when we have strength and resources that we become sure of Him when we don't. That way, when all seems lost (and at some point it will seem that way, if only in the valley of the shadow of death) we can grab hope and say...