The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6, The Message)
This past Sunday I preached on the mustard seed text from the perspective of the economics of God vs. the economics of humanity. While preparing for that sermon it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time looking at whatever lies ahead and often get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. Does that ever happen to you? Have you ever looked at something coming up in your future, a task to be done or a challenge to overcome, and thought how inadequate you may be for the battle? I imagine that every single person has those thoughts at one time or another. Sometimes just thinking about how big a particular challenge is can be enough to scare us from even trying. The problem is that, no matter how big the challenge, we often have no other choice but to drive on and meet it.
As most of you know, Linda and I are currently facing the biggest challenge of our lives right now. It can be overwhelming to look ahead at all the various obstacles there are ahead and the many steps we need to complete to finally come to the end of this particular season of our lives. When we even try to look down that road, we are discouraged and anxious about the future. That’s when we need to think about this text from Luke’s gospel about faith. Instead of worrying about not having enough strength or enough courage or enough stamina to get through this; instead of wringing our hand over the length of the journey, Jesus suggests that all we need is whatever God has given us. God’s economic plan gives us just enough faith, hope, and love to get us from today to tomorrow. Then we have what we need for the day after that and the day after that. God understands that our faith, our hope, and our courage is often very small compared to the size of our battle. God only expects us to use the faith we have, the hope we can muster, and the courage we can hang on to. Jesus tells us clearly that all we need is the tiniest particle of real, true faith in God and we can move whatever mountain is standing in our way. God’s economy suggests that it is boastful of us to even imagine that we can accumulate enough “faith” to do things on or own.
I pray that each one of you, when you face a challenging illness, heart-breaking grief, relationship malfunction, or any other situation that seeks to stop you, that you will draw on that tiny faith still in you.
I remember when I was a kid, my mom had a bracelet with a Lucite charm on it. Inside the charm was a mustard seed. Every time she wore it, it reminded her of the strength she had because of her faith. She used that as a tool to teach us as well. It didn’t matter if we were small children, we could accomplish great things. We could think of that mustard seed and remember that God would help us grow big and do big things in life. Looking back I understand even better now what mom was talking about. As an adult I often feel too small and too inadequate for the task at hand. But, thanks to mom, I remember that it doesn’t matter because God is in charge anyway.
Trying to keep the faith,