What an amazing difference those three little letters can make! In Haanel’s Lesson #13, paragraph 17, the word “but” reminded me of a Spanish proverb I learned as a college freshman — a loose paraphrase: “The enjoyment of the event is rarely as wonderful as the joy of the anticipation.” When we begin to focus on some material wealth, it might be wise to ask ourselves “why?” — otherwise, the “but” may kick in — “we often find that when we secure the things we thought we wanted, they do not have the effect we expected. That is, the satisfaction is only temporary, or possibly is the reverse of what we expected.”
As I re-read this chapter each day (how wise that we are instructed to do so!) I was intrigued to see how often “but” was used to make such significant observations. Paragraph 8: “This then is the true nature and scope of induction. BUT the greater the success which men have achieved in the inductive science, the more…the necessity of observing carefully, patiently, accurately, with all the instruments and resources at our command the individual facts before venturing upon a statement of general laws.”
In paragraph 10, “In short, by the value we set upon truth, by our hope in a steady and universal progress, not to permit a tyrannical prejudice to neglect or mutilate unwelcome facts, BUT to rear the superstructure of science upon the broad and unchangeable basis of full attention paid to the most isolated as well as the most frequent phenomena.”
Now here’s a good assignment from an old college exam — “compare and contrast” six more uses of this little word, and how it more clearly illustrates the points Haanel is making. I found at least eight…in only one did I question the assumption behind it — in paragraph 19. “BUT we cannot be happy unless…” As he pursues this, he does clearly challenge the age-old teachings of the Bible — as the Apostle Paul stated in I Timothy 6:6, 8: “Now, godliness with contentment is great gain…And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
I would equate “godliness” with the fifth paragraph of our Blueprint Builder: “I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice…” In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he goes on to explain what happens all too often when people start focusing on wealth alone, and I think the results are quite obvious if we just look at the mess our economies are in around the world.
BUT, back to the idea that we “cannot be happy.” I think this whole course is based on changing our mind-set, and choosing to be happy, regardless of our circumstances, is quite possible. And I think that the BUT in paragraph 22–“we shall have to give it first”– is exactly where the contentment comes in, where happiness, joy, love, peace are found.
Also, I happened on to another illustration, I think, of living by the compass instead of the clock: in John 6:4-8. When a great crowd of people gathered on a hillside to hear Jesus teach, He tested one of His disciples by asking where they could buy bread to feed all of them. Philip immediately answered a typical “clock” response — we don’t have nearly enough money to buy that much food! BUT (haha) Andrew, another disciple, on the compass, pointed out that they did have the lunch that one boy offered, so Jesus took that and created so much food that there were twelve baskets of bread fragments left over!
I am so enjoying this exploration of the newest discoveries in the mind sciences and reconciling them with God’s word – which He did say delights Him;– Proverbs 25:2 –“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” I may only be a child of the King, but I can have fun doing the searching!