It was awhile ago now that this revelation presented itself to me. While I was working, no less.
I guess you could say it was one of those "Oh wow. Duh" moments, and I had to completely stop what I was doing and think about it.
That famous verse, Matthew 17:20, where Jesus said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed" had popped into my head. And it suddenly dawned on me what He meant.
I thought of how many times I had seen the proverbial hand outstretched above the pulipt, cradling the tiniest of tiny seeds, and heard the text recited and explained. "If your faith was only as large as this tiny seed--if you only had this much faith--you would have enough."
I took it for granted that they were right: after all, it makes sense, does it not?
I used to ponder that, and then look at my own life. I felt certain I could move no mountains, perform no miracles, not walk on water. Therefore, my faith must be non-existant: because the pastor just said that if my faith were as large as that little seed, I would be able to do all of that... I must not have any faith.
I think for just about anyone, that would bother you alot.
It bothered me.
But then, what could I do about it?
So when this text jumped out at me at work and a new meaning presented itself to me, I started. Jesus said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed". I imagine Him holding up a few in His hand and showing the disciples, and then gesturing to the full-grown mustard plant growing nearby. If ye have faith as a grain of mustard.........
The text doesnt say "If ye have faith as large as...". It says, "If ye have faith AS...."
In a way, it was a rebuke to the people at the time. In a way, it's a rebuke to us today. But in another way, its full of more hope than the textbook-pulpit version of this text. Let me rewrite it...
"If you had as much faith as this grain of mustard seed does..."
If we had faith... Like a mustard seed. If we had as much faith...as an inanimate SEED.
Ouch. And hallelujah.
But wait, you say, how do seeds have faith? They cant think or decide things.
No, they cant. And yes, they can. Every part of God's creation recognizes its Creator: when He comes again it is said that the mountains and hills will bow to Him. Creation knows from whence she came--and she reverences her Maker.
The mustard seed has faith enough to know that the God who created it will take care of it: food, water, sunshine, protection will be forthcoming, and the seed doesn't stress about its basic needs. It knows that it will be looked after and used as God sees fit, even if that use is to be harvested or eaten by an animal. The seed doesn't complain. Whatever happens to it is okay, because its Maker ordained it.
So. If I had as much faith as a mustard seed. I guess I don't have that much faith. But, in a way, that realization comforted me. Maybe I do have faith after all! Not as much as a mustard seed, but maybe I have some! The thought comforted me, and I proceeded to forget about it, planning on writing a blog post on it sometime. In fact, in the next couple of days, I decided that it wouldn't be such a terrible experience to die, even; something I'd been terrified of for years. I felt like it would be okay, since I did have some faith afterall.
And then one evening, after a long day at work, I got home and collapsed on my bed, rubbing my left arm. It hurt, and badly at that. I didnt know why: I hadnt done anything to it to make it hurt. Upon inquiry, I was told that often left arm pain is the only symptom of impending heartattack in women.
The lesson about faith and my relief at having some faith entirely thrown out of my head, I panicked. I wasn't ready to die. I didn't want to die. I couldn't!
In the couple of hours that followed while my dad got in touch with a doctor friend from church, I sat alone in the dark, terrified out of my mind at the thought of going to sleep, having a heartattack and not waking up. I thought of waking up in the second resurrection, not the first, because I wasn't ready...and it was enough to tear me to pieces. My mind didn't even return to the mustard seed or my decision of a few days before that it wouldn't be so bad to die if the Lord had me in His hands.
Finally, late at night, I was assured it was only a pinched nerve and I relaxed. I fell asleep, and then the next day, reflecting on it, realized that God had used that small happening to show me how little faith I really had.
Yes, I had some: but it was a mere pittance when compared with the mustard seed's faith. The seed that is willing to live or die as God sees fit. The trust of that seed, and my severe lack of faith in a simple test, led me to my knees to ask forgiveness... And for more of that faith.
All my life I have struggled with faith. Believing. Knowing. Trusting.
Perhaps you can identify.
I still have a long ways to go. We all do. But by God's grace, Im a step closer.
If ye have as much faith as a tiny seed...
"For such is the Kingdom of Heaven."