But God

But God

Yesterday was a superb day at Branches on so many levels. Yesterday Branches Wellness Center opened, a faith based treatment program focusing on weight loss and nutritional counseling. For a long time, we have looked at the connection between emotional/behavioral health and physical well-being. Many of the people we see deal with depression and similar issues as a result of poor nutrition and poor self-image that comes from being overweight. On the other hand, very often binge eating or comfort eating, that results in health issues, is born out of depression or anxiety. To bring the treatment of those things together under one roof, with one common goal, the health and wholeness of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit; has been a dream, especially of my oldest son, Joshua.

So today, I looked out my office window and watched Josh get out of his car, ipad and stethoscope in hand, and come into the newly remodeled medical side of Branches to begin this new adventure was just amazing. He and his two nurses, Pam and Stephanie, had a packed day. Patients began to come in at 8:30 am and Josh finally left at 6:30 pm. The office staff, Lana and Shannon, did a wonderful job merging this completely new endeavor, with a whole new group of patients, in with the already full Branches Counseling schedule. Every counselor contributed to the day, welcoming people with a smile, giving directions down the hallway, helping to carry the load. Molli was her usual incredible self, directing phone people, meeting with the record storage company, and telling the guy where to leave the Dunkin Donuts. (We snuck them in without Josh knowing.) At the end of the day I was nearly overwhelmed at the goodness of God and where He has brought Branches as a ministry in just a decade.

I was overwhelmed for another reason as well. Fifteen years ago, my family was beaten and broken. My sin and sickness had wounded Doris and the boys almost beyond repair. Doris and Jacob had left me in Orlando and fled back to Tennessee to try to save themselves from the hurt that I was causing. Josh, a college student at Trevecca, was devastated by my failure. I went to see him one day and he met me at the door. Hurt and angry, and rightly so, he said, “Dad, don’t come back here anymore.” It was one of the lowest points of a very low point. But God….

How many stories do you know that have been dramatically changed with the words, “But God?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace. But God… David went out to face the giant, Goliath. But God… Elijah was in the cave, depressed and discouraged. But God… Abraham was an old man with no children. But God… The list goes on and on. Even today. Probably even in your life. There have been times that seemed so hopeless, when you felt so helpless, when you had to look up to see the bottom. But God…

And by the way, if you are in one of those times now, the “but God” thing is still true. Your finances are scary. Your kids are wandering away. Your doctor is not giving you much hope. Your marriage seems just about over. Well, good for you. Welcome to the “but God” stage of your life. You are the proud possessor of the NO RESOURCE RESOURCE. You have nowhere else to turn, nothing else to hold on to but God. When He is all you’ve got then He is all you need. Do not quit. Do not give up. Do not give in. You might think you are done, but God…

There is the possibility that you might read these blogs sometime and think that they are somehow about what I have done well or how I have made something happen. If that is the case you are not a very good reader. I only have one story and it is about how I have fallen, failed, and really fouled up. But God… So, this story about Branches today is not about me, and it’s not about Josh, and it’s not about Branches. This story is about Jesus and what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

So, you can imagine all that I was feeling as I watched Josh walk through the door today. (And yes I did run back and take his picture.) From hopelessness to a health clinic, from separation to partnering together in ministry, from really messing up to really being blessed, there is no explanation for that but God.  He will do that for you. Put down that donut. Pick your head up. Look out your window and see God walk in to start a whole new chapter in your life. You can’t fix this. But God…

Mike

12 Responses to But God

  1. I wish I was in Tennessee! I have been looking for a ministry like Branches has just begun for one of the loves in my life. Finding peace in a messy world can be tough!

  2. Thank you for opening your heart and wounds…God has blessed so many because of your willingness to share and to serve…know this friend appreciates your sacrifices…But God…

  3. “BUT GOD” t-shirts
    There are a lot of us that could wear them
    Thanks, Mike for your daily devotionals….
    I’m hooked and blessed by them

  4. Oh, Mike what a great God story!!! How our merciful God can take the lowest of us and allow us to triumph for HIM! I believe this story; as I have one too; and I will continue to tell anyone and everyone how HE loved me through it! Blessings and thanks from a Christ follower in Sarasota, Fl!

  5. At the lowest points of my life, I would have perished…But God!
    Seems that I’ve had many, many “But God” moments in my 66 years…
    He is faithful, He is loving, He is the God of restoration when we have seemingly destroyed our lives beyond repair.
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful words today!

  6. As always Mike- inspiring. As you know mine and Mikes life is so full of those But God times. Praise the Lord that we are still continuing to grow and to learn and lean into Gods Word. Thank you for being such a blessing to so many. Mike and I often talk about how much we love you and Doris and that we are so grateful that God brought us into Family Worship Center and into the lives of folks like you. But God.

  7. Thought about Branches and decided to look on your Facebook page and ended up here. Great message. For some reason I like numbers in God’s word. Fifteen represents rest. Listen to a lot of music- have you heard the song that was recorded by Legacy Five “But God”?

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