Thursday, May 6, 2010

Faith & Mountains

He replied... "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20 NIV

Jesus is speaking to His disciples. They had tried to drive a demon out of a boy but failed. What's worse, the boy's father went to Jesus & complained! How humiliating. Jesus healed the boy on the spot & later told His disciples how they lacked faith. But what did mountains have to do with anything?

When I was a kid, I tried to envision what moving a mountain might look like. I imagined a giant snow capped peak, ripped from the earth. It floated up into the atmosphere like some ethereal being... It would glide slowly through the sky till it reached the sea, where it gradually disintegrated over the water. But in reality, if a mountain COULD be moved, what might it look like? Perhaps it would happen with an earthquake or a landslide or more slowly, via erosion. Maybe it would occur with strategically placed man-made explosives or extensive mining.

But Jesus said faith can move mountains too. I think its interesting that the disciples didn't seem to have enough faith, even after years at Jesus' side. I believe the idea of faith moving a mountain is a deliberate overexaggeration. He uses it to make a point, much like the picture of the plank in the eye or the idea of cutting off your hand if it causes you to sin... I know I tend to focus on the mountains first... but faith sees the outcome, not the mountain. It sees the place the mountain is going & the freedom its absence will bring.

Jesus said in another place, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17-18). The disciples knew this, but did they really believe it? Were they focusing instead on the mountain of impossibility rather than envisioning the possible outcome- signs & wonders, not to mention freedom for this boy they were praying for? Herein lies the essence of faith. When we can start believing in the possibility that something so solid, secure & insurmountable (like mountains of "natural law") can actually crumble, be shaken or conquered, we can indeed begin to see them move. Faith as small as a mustard seed is all it takes to move peaks of doubt, of fear, of defeat... It may have taken years for these mountains to form, or it may have happened in one cataclysmic event. They may be big. They may be small. But a tiny seed of faith can move them all. Apparently.

I can't help thinking- if the disciples thought they had faith but didn't, how can I? There's no need to lose hope. The book of Acts paints a very different picture of the disciples AND their newfound faith...

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