• Maggie Wallem Rowe

When “But” Becomes a Barrier



It happened again last week. Twice.


Something I had said I’d never do. Could never do. Yet I’ve been portraying a Jewish teenaged virgin for nearly 30 years now.


Some of you know the story. An invitation to speak on “Christmas Memories” at a small New England church in 1993. A plea to God for help because this woman had absolutely nothing memorable to say. A revelation that the Holy Spirit knew exactly what that other woman experienced who was present at the Incarnation and the crucifixion. An unprecedented period of three days of listening.


Then, a simple reading of what I had been given. Two invitations the next year, then four. An inner direction to leave the script at home and tell the story not as Maggie, but as Mary. Not in my strength, but in His.


My objections sprang from a profound sense of inadequacy and fear.


“But, Lord!” I cried. “I am too old to portray Mary. I can’t memorize her entire life story. And I look completely wrong for the part!”


Have you ever responded to a task God has given you with those same two words, “But, Lord…!”

But, Lord, I’m not young – or old - enough to do this.
But, Lord, I’m not a speaker. Or a leader.
But, Lord, I’m not qualified, certified, or sanctified enough!

Remember what the twelve spies reported when they were sent out to survey the land God had promised the Israelite people?


[The land] does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.” (Numbers 13:27-28)


The spies acknowledged the positive, and yet the negatives they witnessed loomed larger in their imagination as insurmountable objects.

“What begins as a but eventually becomes a barrier.” Laurie Polich Short

I had so many “But, Lords!” in 1995, when God first asked me to go out and share the gospel story through the lips of Mary of Nazareth. It wasn’t easy then, and nearly 300 presentations later it’s not any easier now. Although I cheat these days and wear kneepads under my robe, falling to my knees as Mary and springing up again is getting harder. I’m limping this week.


But oh, the miracles I never would have witnessed if my fears had kept me from ultimately saying, “Yes, Lord!”


Maybe you’re feeling totally spent these days, with little time and even less energy. And yet you’ve been asked to respond to a fresh need that you suspect God has sent your way. You know you can’t say yes to everything. Every yes in one area means a no in another.


Yet you’ve prayed over it, around it, and through it and the answer remains the same. This responsibility has your name on it. And you know if He has called you to it, He will get you through it.

“But Lord, I’m not…
But child, I AM.”

From his fullness, we have received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)


You may feel you’ve got nothing left, that this task carries a price you physically cannot pay. But here’s the best news of all: you don’t need to.


Grace is on the house, friends.


(c) Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2021

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If you'd like a gift-wrapped, personalized hardcover copy of Maggie's book This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others in time for Christmas gift-giving, you may contact her at MaggieWRowe@gmail.com. Tax and shipping (US only) included with cover price. Please order by December 14 and specify "rustic" or foil gift wrap (as in photo).



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