Two Little Words

Confession: I have a tendency to breeze past passages of scripture that are super familiar to me, assuming I’ve already milked them of all of their goodness during prior readings and leaving little opportunity for new truths to grip my heart. Recently, I was doing just this as I skimmed one of my favorite passages of scripture at the beginning of Ephesians 2. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke past my glazed over eyes and wandering thoughts and illuminated two powerful words within this passage: 

"But God." 

To truly understand their impact, though, we have to acknowledge why they were necessary in the passage (and in our lives). Don’t worry, Paul has no problem reminding us in the first few verses why we desperately needed this “But God.” 

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (vv. 1-3)

Dead in our trespasses and sins. Living in the passions of our flesh. Children of wrath. Man oh man. Paul doesn’t mince words. There’s no doubt who we once were. And how unworthy, inadequate, and downright rotten we are in our own flesh. As I read these verses, I can almost feel my head and my heart lowering in shame, remembering the sin and the darkness from which I’ve been delivered.

Then, like a beacon of hope shining relentlessly through the darkness come these two words: 

“But God.” 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved...” ( vv. 4-5)

“But God.”

But God. The two words that not only change the course of our lives but of our eternities. 

But God. The two words that lift our heads and our hearts.

But God. Hope for the hopeless and grace for the sinner. 

But God. Our answer for all that we cannot see or explain. 

I love the picture now painted here in the midst of this familiar text: chains falling to the ground, prison cells flinging open, captives set free. We were lost in our sin BUT GOD had mercy on us. We were wretched and unlovable BUT GOD loved us with a great love. We were dead in our trespasses BUT GOD made us alive again. We were bound for hell BUT GOD extended grace. 

“- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God...” ( vv.6-8)

The whole course of who we were and where we were headed changed when God intervened. First we weren’t. Now we are. Alive. Saved. Raised up. Seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All for His glory and so that He might show His kindness towards us that IS. TRULY. IMMEASURABLE. And its offered to all of us. His gift. His extension of grace and an opportunity to step into the light and into the life He has for us - full, abundance in Christ Jesus. 

Let’s not miss the life-giving, heart-changing, hell-shattering power of two little words that speak of one mighty, merciful Savior. 

 “But God.” 

Megan Woodham