...for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20
Yesterday I spent the late afternoon and evening getting the rest of my seeds in the ground. John and Josh were "helping" me plant lots of zucchini, squash, and pumpkins in large hills of dirt. Hannah was in the pasture cutting sticks from box elder trees to use as stakes to mark our hills. In the pasture, the wild mustard is in full bloom. She picked a bouquet of mustard and brought it to me, asking what kind of flowers they were. As Joshua was trying to plant the mustard flowers in the hill of zucchini, I explained that it was mustard, and said, "You know, Jesus said if we would just have faith as small as a mustard seed, we would tell a mountain to move and it would do it!" At this point, Hannah was walking to the opposite end of the garden. "I sense a sermon coming on, get out of here!" were possibly her thoughts.
As I mounded up the next hill for squash, I was thinking of that verse. What would it be like to have that kind of faith? I know I don't have the faith that moves mountains. Then a light went on and I began to think of this verse in a way I never had before. Now, you have to know that I have not done deep research on this (or any research, for that matter), so don't build a doctrine on it. However, I want your input.
In the past, I have looked at that verse with a bit of hopeless frustration. It even seemed to me, reading the preceding passages, that Jesus was frustrated with the weak faith of His disciples. I would read it as God's disappointment in the weakness of our faith. I know that that is not the case. I would also look at my own weak, pathetic faith, and feel discouraged. I think where my faith has grown the most, is recognizing that I am not God. Meaning it really isn't up to me to get the mountain moved, but it's up to Him. In my life, I have fallen in to the "if I just do more... if I just change this, then..." OR "I haven't been reading my Bible lately, so my prayers don't have the power that ____'s prayers do." OR "I wish I had ____'s relationship with Jesus." OR "____is my loved by God than I am, because look at their faith!" Now I KNOW that these statements are lies. However, I still catch myself hearing those thoughts.
Now, here's what I think mustard seed faith looks like...
You feel that nudge from God to do something, maybe a little out of your comfort zone like ask someone you barely know if you can pray for them. You do it. The return effect is something like, "Wow! Thank you!" or tears. You didn't argue with Him, you just did it.
You are on the phone with a friend you have known for a long time and she discloses to you a very dire financial situation. You feel the nudge of God to bring them meat from the freezer and load up a few bags of meat and bring it to her house. You say, "I think the Lord wants you to have this. I don't know why, but here you go." There are tears in her eyes as you leave. You maybe are told later that she had just prayed that morning that if there were just meat in her freezer, she would know that she could get through this.
You can't stop thinking of someone, so you pray for them. Later you find out that what you were praying for was exactly what they needed at the time.
You know someone who is ill. You pray for them, they get better.
The house is crazy, the kids are fighting, the phone is ringing off the hook, you are ready to tear your hair out. You feel God telling you to pray. You steal away for two minutes, locked in the bathroom with tears streaming down your face just telling the Lord how much you love Him and being in His presence. You return to reality and things are strangely much calmer!
You see, I think that mustard seed faith is knowing who God is on an intimate level and just doing what He tells you to do. Seek Him, steal away with Him, desire Him, know Him.
If you love me, you will obey what I have commanded. John 14:15
It is completely backwards to try to obey Him first. This is where I think a lot of churches frustrate people and drive them away. We can not accomplish the fruit of the Holy Spirit on our own. We cannot fit into this mold of Christ-like perfection apart from an intimate relationship with Him. It takes time to cultivate that kind of relationship. Ask anyone who has been married a few decades. They will tell you the truth! It takes time, it takes endurance, seeking each other out, sharing everything (good and bad). Learning to be real, not what you think the other wants you to be. Our relationship with the Lord really is just like a marriage. It doesn't begin with depth, wisdom, and maturity. Nor should we try to move the mountain first. We should do what He says,
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
I am not saying that new believers shouldn't bother to pray, nor expect their prayers to be answered. I am just saying that as our relationship with Him grows deeper and stronger, so will our ability to discern His voice, and do what He says. Thus, the mountain moving prayers. Let Him worry about how His will can be accomplished. That's not our problem. We are just called to love Him and obey Him.
I can handle that!
Thank you that you have shown me that you know my faith is weak, but You are powerful. It's not about me or my accomplishments, it's about you and yours. I could never move a mountain, no matter how powerful or righteous I might be. (ha, ha!) You are all powerful. It's not my righteousness, but yours. You are amazing, and you love me! Wow! Help me to love you back. Transform me into your likeness. I want to be more like you, not me. I want to do your will, not mine. Help me to seek you first, not all the other things. continue to show me when I'm going about it completely backwards and gently get me back on track. You truly are the Good Shepherd and I love you.
In Jesus name, Amen