Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Faith Like a Mustard Seed

“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)

     A few years ago, I planted a Russian olive tree in one of my raised beds.  It wasn’t very big when I bought it, and it took a few years, but now it is huge.  In fact, I had to trim it back this summer, because otherwise, it was taking over the raised bed, and was causing the other plants not to receive the sunlight they needed.  It is wonderful to even have a tree—we live way below the alpine tree line, and the only “trees” on our property are sagebrush.  There are trees where the water flows off the hills in small ravines, but because we are on a ridge, we have no running water.  The soil under us is just shattered basalt; the topsoil is limited and not very hospitable for plants other than wild grasses, wildflowers, sage and sunflowers. 
     I now have a resident black-chinned hummingbird who has staked a claim on my bird feeder and the olive tree; it is home to his female, who is the only other hummingbird allowed to drink from the feeder.  He chases away, with an utter fierceness, any other male hummie that shows up, and we have witnessed some pretty impressive “dogfights” amongst these wee birds.
     I haven’t been able to find their nest, and I am reluctant to snoop around too much, for fear of disturbing the female and her young.  When I first brought this up at church, a dear friend said that there are so few trees in my area, that it is no wonder that this male is so aggressive.  Then it struck me…Jesus’ words on the mustard seed.
     It’s not the size of the mustard seed, but its potential.  It is also the seed's “willingness” to grow, given it is put in the ground in the first place.  Sounds ridiculous?  Those seed packets at the store show pictures of beautiful flowers or plants, but those are just pictures of the seeds’ potential—the gardener sees what can come from those packets, but the seeds must go into the ground first. 
     Jesus says, yes, your faith must be there in the first place (a seed itself ) but it also must go into the ground (be planted in the One Who is trustworthy and sure).  Then it has to be nurtured—planted in the right soil (a willing heart) and water (with the Living Water—Christ Himself) and then it will GROW!  Whew.  That’s a lot to begin with.  But wait!  There’s more!
     Once it grows, look what it can do:  provide shelter for the birds.  My Russian olive provides cover for the quail, who fear the hawks that continually fly overhead—the quail now have a safe place to dwell.  A strong faith shelters us when the hawks of sin fly overhead.  Our faith may not cause the hawks to leave, but we can dwell safely in His promise that He will be with us, no matter what. 
     Our faith can nurture more life within us—like the little hummies’ nest, we can learn and grow in Him, and be safe while we grow.  We had a vigorous wind storm last night, and the little male hummie dashed into the olive tree for safety and for something to hold on to—not a bad lesson for us.  What do we dash into and what do we hold onto when the fierce winds blow?
     Finally, the “mountains” of our lives, the ones that need to be moved, can be as we exercise our faith.  We seek His will and pray within His will—and the mountains may be moved slowly (grain by grain, over time, eroding away) or immediately (earthquake or landslide!) but whatever the mountain may be , it is our faith IN HIM that allows us to gain perspective on that mountain.  “Nothing will be impossible” and isn’t interesting that when Jesus and His disciples came together in Galilee, right after this teaching, He then announced the greatest mountain those boys had yet to surmount:  He told them of His impending death.  Their faith in Him would go from a wee seed to a mountain mover!

Precious Lord:  The seed is small and the mountains are large.  Help me to take the seed out of the packet, put it in Your good soil, attend to it and watch it grow—to be shelter for me and for others.  Then and only then, will I have the strength to face my mountains.  In His precious Name, Amen.

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