For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
April showers bring May flowers, I kept reminding myself every time it rained for the past five weeks. April showers bring May flowers, April showers bring May flowers, over and over, in some combination of optimism and desperation that spring would really come. (We won’t ask what May showers bring.) I knew that in the logic of cause and effect and the change of seasons, that there would be flowers sooner or later. Some things just follow naturally, a cause and effect that can’t be derailed. It’s true for flowers in springtime, and it’s true in a lot of ways for our faith, too.
For example, Jesus told his disciples, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will move mountains.” Those mountains might only move one shovel-full at a time, but still: the Holy Spirit gives us the faith to move mountains. I think of the mountains I’ve seen in my own life or the lives of people around me: the mountain of facing illness, the mountain of getting sober, the mountain of being the first in a family to go to college, the mountain of coming out, the mountain of believing yourself to be worthy of love and belonging, the mountain of finding a new job, the mountain of admitting you were wrong.
Some of those mountains don’t move very easy.
If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will move mountains. Cause and effect. As sure as April showers and May flowers. Somehow, the faith that we have in Jesus Christ is enough to move mountains.
Let me tell you something about mountains, though: you don’t have to be the one to move your mountains all alone. You can get together with one or two or a dozen or a hundred people of faith and put your shovels together to move a mountain together. You might even see that someone is paralyzed by the sheer size of their mountain and get in there and start shifting it yourself.
Here’s another cause and effect Jesus offers. He said to his disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” As incredible as it might seem, the very act of declaring forgiveness works to forgive! Cause and effect: “I forgive you” means forgiveness has occurred!
Faith and forgiveness work every time. They are trustworthy for cause-and-effect because Jesus is trustworthy. Whatever God sets out to do, God does. God’s word does what God says it will, whether that word is spoken through Jesus or through one of us. When we say “I forgive you,” we speak as if for Jesus. When we bend to do the work of moving mountains, it is the faith God gives us that strengthens us. Cause and effect. Simple and extraordinary, all at once.
Trustworthy God, I know that you keep your promises. Give me faith to move mountains and forgiveness for my sin, that I may trust you evermore. Amen.