In my typical Saturday morning fashion, I sat down in a busy coffee shop to read the Bible. There is something sneaky about communing with God in a room full of people who have no idea that the Maker of the universe knows every word I write in my journal. I love it. Aloneness in a crowd, when no one in the shop pays attention to me but God, brings a unique kind of intimacy that I cherish.
Just moments before I read my Bible, I wrote out in my journal what was hurtful, inconsiderate, and painful to me from the day before. I think in circles, so what started out as a finger pointed towards others quickly circled back to feelings sorry for myself. I asked for God’s help and opened Exodus 7-12. Well, there I am. Pharaoh. He heard the word of God from Moses, hardened his heart, plead for relief from what was uncomfortable, and then harden it again when his pride took over. I felt trapped in a similar cycle. I hardened my heart towards my sin, and in the corner of that coffee shop, plead for relief because I hated my hard heart, and then returned right back to harden it again. I knew I was different from Pharaoh, but I struggled to believe.
I asked for God’s help again. Why, O Father, must I endure this cycle of repentance in hard-heartedness forever? Can’t I just live like the new woman I am? Help me.
I read Ephesians 1. Good. But still, God help me. I continued to Ephesians 2
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God…” (verses 1-3)
Even now I cannot write those two words without a lump in my throat and water in my eyes.
“being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (verses 4-7)
The former is not the forever. Nor is the current. Sometimes I feel like I carry a stone heart in my chest that weighs me down on the Road from the City of Destruction. I feel the pull to turn around because I just can’t bear it. I want to remember that my heart was changed to flesh. “But God.” He softened my heart because the Road from the City of Destruction leads to the Celestial City where what I have received in part in this life will finally become forever in the next.
These two words are still the answer to my prayer. “But God” helps me remember my former life is not forever. “But God” is sufficient to shatter my cement heart today. “But God” is enough hope to persevere tomorrow. “But God” will be my song for forever.
“But God” is the shortest phrase I will ever need to give me the longest, richest life I will ever live.