Last January I signed up to participate in an online scripture memory program coordinated by Living Proof Ministries (LPM), founded by Beth Moore. LPM runs the program every two years, after which participants are invited to a special, more intimate conference with Beth. Our spirals are our ticket in and reciting our verses is our ticket out.
We call this event the SSMT Celebration, which stands for Siesta Scripture Memory Team.
The term siesta became a term of endearment for her online community members when Beth made a typo while typing sisters in a blog post years ago and auto-spell changed it to siestas. The term stuck and members of her cyer-space community have been siestas ever since.
It’s been six years since I attended a SSMT celebration. When I signed up last January, I knew I wanted to attend the celebration this January, which occurred last weekend.
I had a blissful 36-hour respite from normal life.
Talked with God.
Drank in everything Beth taught.
I wanted to make a new friend. That didn’t happen.
I wanted to chat with Beth. That didn’t happen.
(This is as close as I got. Please squint.)
I wanted to be changed. Thankfully, that did happen.
Beth’s theme was one word. She presented it to us through an audience-involved version of Wheel of Fortune.
Someone guessed it: NEVERTHELESS
In different translations, this word can appear as words like but or yet. Beth studied the verses that contained the word NEVERTHELESS in the English Standard Version (ESV) and conducted three teaching sessions organized around seven of the passages in which NEVERTHELESS appeared in a verse.
I have been changed. I love a new word.
(And you know I love millions of words.)
I have been so changed that I would now say the word NEVERTHELESS is the linchpin word for anyone who walks by faith in Jesus Christ. A person cannot walk by faith without this word (or a synonym) being part of his or her everyday language.
NEVERTHELESS is a conjunctive adverb.
(No worries. I didn’t know until last weekend, either.)
The function of a conjunctive adverb in sentence structure is to act as a link between two sentences or two independent clauses. The conjunctive adverb clarifies how the two independent ideas are related. In the verses Beth reviewed, the word NEVERTHELESS connected contradictory ideas.
For example, when Jesus was alone in the garden of Gethsemane pleading with the Father in one of the most vulnerable displays of our Savior’s humanity, he prayed, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; NEVERTHELESS, not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:39)
Notice each side of NEVERTHELESS stands alone.
- My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.
- Not as I will, but as you will.
When viewed independently like this, they seem unrelated. But when linked by this linchpin word–this conjunctive adverb–faith enters in and God shows up strong.
My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
In this sentence, NEVERTHELESS allows Jesus to insist that his spiritual reality overrides his experiential reality.
Because of the insistence in this sentence, we have forgiveness of sins.
NEVERTHELESS is an insistent word. It invites God into circumstances that feel opposite to our spiritual reality. Are you loving this word yet?
On the way home from the celebration my plane met with turbulence unlike any I have ever experienced. It seemed we were a mere toy in the hands of the wind. Since we were being tossed about, no drink service occurred. (Though some passengers mentioned needing a drink, if you catch my drift.) At one point when a flight attendant was calmly explaining over the intercom that we were experiencing “moderate” turbulence, the pilot cut in on her announcement with a commanding, Everyone be seated now! It was then that I knew the term “moderate” had simply been a public relations fear-abating term to keep us from panicking. Off we went into the turbulence as if riding a bronco.
And I got to practice what I had been taught.
Father, I want to land safely and go home; NEVERTHELESS, not my will but thine be done.
It was GREAT. I am not talking about our eventual safe landing at the airport. I am talking about the landing of my faith on this linchpin word in mid-air! I am now strapped to this beautiful string of letters and am riding it as the connection between my experience and God’s truth…between my feelings and my faith.
Just for fun, I have created a worksheet that you can print off for your own use in a devotional time with God, or perhaps use it to teach a class at church. The format is what many of us did on tests growing up in the “matching” section. Connect items from one list to items in another. Have fun practicing how to use the word NEVERTHELESS in your conversations with yourself and God.
I could go on and on; NEVERTHELESS, it is time to stop.
We all wrote our favorite verse of the year on this wall. 800 strong. 43 states. 3 countries.
My favorite was the final portion of Colossians 2:13-14. I blogged about it the week I memorized it: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
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