Jesus said, “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.”
Faith the size of a mustard seed can move a whole mountain? That sounds awfully implausible. What can a mustard seed, that small speck, do against something as vast as a mountain? Does Jesus have unrealistic expectations?
Well, here’s a different scenario: I was driving to Iowa City one day, and about two minutes down the road, I realized there was a fly in my car. No big deal, I thought. It’s just a little fly. What harm could it do?
Oy. Half an hour later, that tiny fly was the most annoying creature I’d ever encountered, and I was just about ready to invoke all the angry psalms in a prayer for its swift demise. It flew around my head. It buzzed in my ears. It landed on the steering wheel. If you’ve ever been trapped in an enclosed space with a fly, you know what I mean.
But the fly was so tiny! It wasn’t a great big horsefly. It was just a little one. It still managed to pester and annoy me all the way there. It seemed bigger and bigger the longer I sat in the car with it. It got me thinking: if a fly can do so much damage in half an hour, what other tiny things can cause trouble in our lives?
Most conflicts between people don’t start with a great big fight, after all. They start with something little, an annoyance or a slight that sticks around, irritating you until you snap. The same is true for abuse, addiction, and affairs: little steps in the wrong direction get bigger and bigger until everything is out of control and somebody has gotten somewhere they never intended to be. For that matter, even guilt and shame can be like a fly: it sneaks up on you, buzzing around, until you can’t think of anything else.
Looks like Jesus wasn’t being unrealistic after all. Small things have big consequences. It’s true about flies, and sin, … and faith. Even the smallest amount of faith, a tiny seed, can do remarkable things. A little bit of faith can lead someone to trust God on a day when everything goes wrong. A little bit of faith can lead someone to ask for help when they feel overwhelmed. A little bit of faith can keep someone going when life seems hopeless. Perhaps, if faith buzzes around enough, it could even move a mountain. Small, seemingly insignificant steps of faith can take us to a place where even mountains can be moved.
Faith, at its core, is the trust we have that God keeps promises to us. A tiny bit of faith is enough to trust that when Jesus Christ calls us disciples, that is what we are. A small seed of faith is enough to trust that when our heavenly Father calls us beloved Children, that is what we are. A little speck of faith is enough to trust that when the Holy Spirit calls us forgiven, that is what we are.
God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, give me enough faith to trust your promises. Guard me from every little sin. Let my faith be the size of a mustard seed. Amen.