He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
This past Monday, we had a small mountain delivered to our driveway—five cubic yards of mulch. Our task was to move the mountain to the landscaping beds around our house.
I confess: I didn’t try saying to our little mountain, “Move into the flower beds and under the trees and to the back yard.” In all honesty, that thought didn’t even occur to me. I was pretty sure that there was one way to move that mountain. That way required a shovel and a wheelbarrow and some sore muscles at the end of the day. And the mountain has been moved.
So here is a question. Did my sore muscles reflect a lack of faith, or were they evidence of the faith I had that God would give me the strength to move the mountain, using the tools at my disposal?
I suspect that some people think of faith as a magic trick. Somewhere in the recesses of their hearts and minds, they think that if they just believe the right way and say the right words, miraculous things will happen, as if by magic. And when they find that they have to reach for the shovel and the wheelbarrow, they conclude that their faith was a failure. Maybe they blame themselves. Maybe they blame God. Even more sadly, maybe they reject the life of faith as a relic of a past age that is out of touch with the world we live in.
After sixty-seven years of living, I am still learning about faith. I am learning that faith is not a magic trick, but faith is a way of seeing, a way of thinking, a way of being, and a way of doing. Faith is not just an attitude. It’s not just an optimistic outlook on life. It’s not just a matter of “God helps those who help themselves.” Faith is recognition that there are limits to our human understanding. Faith is a trust in mystery, in the reality that there is love, that love is just as real as the mountain of mulch. Faith calls us to move mountains, but also to recognize that we don’t move mountains by ourselves. Faith invites us to recognize that it is in God that we live and move and have our being.
Our little mountain has moved. I didn’t move this mountain by myself. I am filled with gratitude for gifts from God:
· For the gifts of a shovel and wheelbarrow to make the job easier.
· For the gifts of my wife Carol and neighbors like David and Tim who pitched in and helped (while maintaining social distance!).
· For the gifts of Tylenol to help sooth the aching muscles.
· For the gifts of sunshine and good weather.
· The gifts of life and breath and strength to do my part.
Could God have moved that mountain by some other way? I believe in mystery. But I believe also in the mysterious ways that God’s gifts came together to get the job done. And I see in this small miracle an invitation to become part of God’s miracle of moving another mountain—of helping to bring the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven.
Questions for Reflection:
· What gifts has God given to me this day?
· How can I use God’s gifts to be a part of God’s miracle that is unfolding in our world?