Conjunctions [A 20s Community discussion on the word ‘But’]


grammar : a word that joins together sentences, clauses, phrases, or wordsImage

: a situation in which two or more things happen at the same time or in the same place.

Conjunctions are little words that turn the corner in sentences. They can be inclusive: “We’re going to buy a new car and you can get one too!” They can be encouraging: “I know that you are going to be obedient and I am going to be there to encourage along the way so you are not discouraged.” We love the tag on conjunction. The add on to this something else that is very encouraging, things that sooth, things that sweeten the pot.

But there is another conjunction that reminds us of who we are. A small community of twenties got together last night to endeavor to arrive at life’s conclusions about what it means to not be first. It was a weighty introduction that brought out some immediate tension for those who really engaged with the concept. How does a person avoid being first without having an out of body experience? It would be one thing if you could somehow remove yourself from your body for the benefit of others but we do not have that capability. We are stuck here trying to reconcile how to serve others and simultaneously not notice ourselves serving.

I think the book they are using is I Am Second by Dave Sterrett but as far as I am concerned this gathering should just be called “But.” At the close of the discussion the request was made to fill in your personal convictions to this statement:

“I want to be Your disciple but…”

It immediately brought up pangs and horror of past year’s (yesterday even?) dread of that horrendous conjunction. “I know I shouldn’t feel like this but…” “I would give more but….” “I know you like Oreos too but there is only one row left.” I see this conjunction showing up formerly in my kids and they are less than six. In the dog when he ‘knows he needs to take himself outside but…(I don’t care if its cold!)” And even in my wife. I would write that but….

And the whole world is full of ‘but’s’ and the ellipses following the conjunction in the form of “…” or the blank stare or simply trailing off in speech. It does not make the conjunction disapear or make anyone feel better. We know the ‘but’ is there. You know you can feel it! Which is why we say things like “I feel a ‘but’ coming.”

Being a disciple like love is grief. Which is why they probably begin to look synonymous when done properly. There will be painful reminders of days past. Horrendous reminders of parts of your present wrong. Undeniable trauma from the inevitable of things to come. And you cannot rid the discussion by removing the conjunction and ending the sentence early. Everybody knows its there. Its what keeps you up at night. Its what makes you avoid discussions. It is where heartache lingers and Rolaids become profitable.

….but God is awesome.

Wait that’s too easy right? Not really. If He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, then there is something to be said after the ‘but’ that makes Him get the last word. I would like to be your disciple but I cannot get settled to subject my emotions and fears and control to your authority. I still want to run the ship God. I still like piloting this crashing plane. It is my Big Wheel get your own wheel in a wheel God. All the setups for our own discussion are trumped by God’s conjunctions.

  • We aspire to be independent (which is really an attempt to be alone) God says “But I am Emmanuel (God with Us.)”
  • We shamelessly squander all things like we’re not stewards “but God shall supply all our needs.”
  • We wander into death and darkness but God leads us through the way for His names sake.
  • We were dead in our sins but God who is rich in mercy quickened us and made us His inheritance.

Every truth statement of our own self-righteousness, vanity, apathy and vileness is trumped by one simple conjunction from God. You will drown but God’s right hand holds all the strength. The conjunction cannot be ignored our lacks are real and my sin is every before me. But I know that the same God who is Lord over sin is Lord over the sentence also.



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