No, I didn’t misspell “butt” and I am not trying to insult anyone. I am simply stating a fact; we all have big buts in our lives. Last week, Sondra talked about “nudges from God” and how He will often give us guidance and direction for decisions and choices we should make. We know God has called us for a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) and is asking us to participate in Jesus’ ministry of sharing His love with the world (Matthew 28:18-20). We know this, but we often let things get in the way… …but I am too young or too old. …but people are hard to work with. …but I do not have enough time. …but I do not have enough money. …but I am tired. …but that person is better at it than I am, choose him/her. …but I am scared. …but I just do not want to. …but I cannot; I don’t know how. These are just a few of the big buts that get in the way of living life for, with and through Christ. Sometimes we let other peoples’ buts get in our way and become our own. Other times we push our buts on others so they won’t make us do something out of our comfort zone. I have two words to help counter these big buts. These words are not fancy or special, yet they take away the power of the big but and turn it into a small, almost non-exist but. When you put these two words together, they begin to shift your thinking and they are teeming with potential. These words are:

What if…

What if I didn’t let my age stop me? What if I learned about how people relate to one another? What if I prioritized my time in order to use it wisely? What if I made a budget to manage my money better? What if I found rest in Christ? What if I listened to God’s voice in my life and followed the gifts He has given me? What if I stood up to fear because I know I can through Christ? What if I stopped using my ‘buts’ as excuses and trusted in the One who made me and called me? See, you are already thinking differently aren’t you? When you look for the “what if” instead of listening to the “big but”, your focus shifts to be more on God rather than any obstacles in your path. You see God moving and working through you and others in ways you did not think possible; all because you asked, What if? In the gospel of Luke (5:17-26), we read a story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man who was brought by his friends to hear see Jesus. The Pharisees often had all sorts of ‘buts’ to throw at Jesus as to why He could not say or do something. This passage is no different: but only God forgives sin, but Jesus is a man (vs. 21). The friends could have also fallen prey to the ‘buts’: but there are too many people, but there is no way to get him to Jesus (vs. 19a). Instead, they persevered and instead asked “What if?”

What if we lowered our friend from the roof to Jesus?” (vs. 19b)

Jesus saw the faith of the man’s friends and answered their ‘What if’ question by proclaiming the man forgiven (vs. 20). Jesus answered the “buts” of the Pharisees with a “What if” of His own (vs. 23); showing His authority to them and the crowd. The now healed man and his friends participated in the power of Christ through their willingness to ask “What if”. They did not let their big buts get in the way. They knew Jesus was up to something amazing and they wanted to be a part of it. Spend some time this week writing down your big buts, the things holding you back. Then write down your what ifs, the things you want to do and be a part of with Jesus. Begin to imagine what it would look like to participate with the God of the universe in the work He is already doing. You may just be surprised at what God is doing and wants to do through you, with you and for you. This message is adapted from a presentation given at CONVERGE, a conference hosted by GCI Generations Ministries. More information can be found at http://genmin.gci.org/.