This past weekend I was at a Beth Moore conference that was nothing short of amazing. It was not your typical Beth Moore conference; it was geared specifically for women in their twenties and thirties who feel called to teach and write about the Bible. Beyond anything else, I walked away with a renewed sense of passion for the Scriptures and for intimacy with Jesus.
So I came home and was determined to be in my Bible, which has been a rare occurrence in recent months. I analyzed my daily liturgy to see where I was wasting time and where I could make room for what really matters.
I started in Galatians, and barely made it through chapter one. I was struck by the way Paul starts this letter with his story. He is reminding the church in Galatia of their need for the Gospel – the true Gospel. In order to convince them of this, he tells his story.
He shares his story not for his own fame or glory, which we often do, but in order to assure the receivers of the letter (the church in Galatia and also us) that the Gospel he preaches is true and from the Lord. Take some time and read Galatians 1. Like right now. You definitely have time. Do it.
What I really cannot get past are these three words in verse fifteen: “But then God…” My first thought when I read that phrase was, “Oh, that’s how you know a story is about to get GOOD.” The best stories are where we can talk about how God intervened.
I have this funny memory from my childhood. When I was in elementary school, we would have recess out on the covered blacktop. There was space for kids to play basketball, wall ball, foursquare, all the classics. One day, a boy stole my scrunchie and ran away with it. (Classic “he probably did it because he likes you” situation. I’ve questioned the message we send girls and boys when we equate someone being mean to you with liking you…yikes. Anyways.) I remember chasing him around the blacktop, weaving around games of four square and jump rope. As I was running I saw my older brother with his friends, who were several grades above us. I called out my brother’s name, and in an epic, movie-worthy moment he knew exactly what was happening and intervened. He took one step toward my scrunchie-stealing classmate, and the kid dropped it and ran away in an instant.
He stepped in. He intervened. And I still remember it to this day, even when it was something as small as a stolen scrunchie.
When God steps in, anything can happen. Mountains can crumble, sickness can disappear, people can be transformed. Scripture is full of “But when God…” stories, and they are what teach us about who He is and what life with Him looks like. “But when God…” means the trajectory of the story is about to change dramatically.
I’ve written before that stories are the most powerful thing we have to share with the world. Our stories are ours, completely. They are the most influential thing we have, and no one can ever take them from us. Revelations 12 tells us that Satan will be defeated by the “blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” There is almost nothing as powerful as your story!
And the best stories are these, the “But when God…” stories. We get to experience and share those. We don’t just get to share the ones of “Bible times,” but we have them here and now. Our life stories are full of these experiences.
In any struggle, we can invite God into it. We can eagerly expect “But when God…” movements. It may not always (read: probably never will) look the way we wanted or imagined. It may be a “no” when we would have wanted a “yes.” It may be a goodbye instead of a hello. It might be a move when we wanted consistency. But when God steps in, and He will if we ask, it is always for our good and His glory.
It feels connected to me to the “perhaps” prayers that my friend and I have been praying. “Perhaps God will…” is the beginning of the story, and “But when God…” is the conclusion.
What are the “But when God…” moments in your life? How have you seen Him step in?
Here are some thoughts…
BUT WHEN GOD…
Redeemed a marriage
Brought a new job
Removed a relationship
Spoke through a trusted friend
Freed you from:
Gave you a new name
Helped you be brave
Three words. But when God. When God steps in, everything changes. Start believing this for your story. Ask for His presence and transformative power. What situation do you need to look back on and say, “It was hard, but when God…”? How are you asking Him to step in now?
Friend, today I am praying that you will experience many powerful “But when God…” moments. That you would see His hand, the weaving of the Divine Thread, throughout all your past experiences and continuing into your future. I pray that you would never be able to question His love for you and His involvement in your life, because you can speak to the “But when God…” experiences that surprised you.