13 Nov FAITH THE SIZE OF A MUSTARD SEED
Anonymous (to protect the privacy of others involved)
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Most Christians have heard about “faith the size of a mustard seed.” I grew up in church and certainly heard that bible verse from the book of Matthew many times. “With faith the size of a mustard seed, I would be able to move mountains?” However, I spent most of my life, and especially the early years of my marriage, with small faith – clinging tightly to that mustard seed and trying to push mountains that were not moving. I didn’t realize at that time that God wanted me to offer up my mustard-seed-sized faith to Him so that He could grow it. I learned that sometimes the mountain moves and that sometimes we are the mountain that needs moving. Submission to God, real submission, was scary to me. Much like the would-be followers of Jesus who said, “I want to follow You, but…” I too wanted to follow Christ, but in reality, I wanted Him to follow me and allow my plans to prosper.
Of course, that’s not how God works. In fact, it’s because He loves me so much that He wrecked my plans. This is a little all over the place, but stay with me. Much of this began several years back when I became a stay at home mom on the faith that God would provide for what I felt I was being called to do. God did, and my husband got a job that provided for us in abundance. In that phase of life, free from financial worry, I quickly allowed my need for God to move to the backburner of my thoughts, and I overestimated my own abilities. I was constantly dreaming of our next financial “gain” and, for reasons that now seem so silly, I was really focused on what steps we would need to take to move “up the ladder” and into a bigger home. Clearly with a bigger home, I had convinced myself that I would be able to be more hospitable, more comfortable, and so on. Even the world around me reinforced this idea. Everywhere I look, it seems that even many Christians support the notion that God is a genie and ready to give us whatever we wish for. I thought if I just worked hard enough or prayed hard enough, then God would move mountains that were blocking me from getting what I wanted most. Man, I was so off.
We were suddenly forced to operate on a much smaller budget when my husband’s field of work took quite a tumble. However, the biggest blow was dealt the day my second child was born, when my husband got a call in the hospital that his branch of the company would soon be laid off. My husband was wise enough to not share that information with me in the hospital, and instead shared it with me 2 weeks after the chaos of life with a toddler and newborn began. I felt panicked. I felt desperate. When would this happen? How soon? My career was in teaching and a mid-school-year position would be hard to find. Even if I could find a job it wouldn’t pay all of our bills. In theory, finances are “first world problems,” but in reality, anyone who has faced financial crisis knows that the worry can be constant or sickening.
One night, soon after I found out the news, I was the only one awake while everyone else was sleeping (a common occurance for me). I walked through my home praying, and stopped to look over the place where we kept all of the kids’ toys. I confessed to God that I was anxious about His plan for me. I remember specifically thinking, “What if it’s God’s sovereign plan that I should lose this house? We would be so ashamed. What would we do? How could we possibly live in a place even smaller than we live in now where we are already tight?” It was then that I realized that I had the belief that God is sovereign and that I couldn’t skirt His plan for me. So I prayed and asked God to help me believe that He was good and to grow my small faith so that I could walk willingly into whatever He had planned for me.
Over the next few months, we prepared for my husband’s inevitable end at his job as he looked for employment. However, the work he had was dwindling and we were living hand to mouth. In this time of financial desperation, I felt God drawing me near and showing me, time and time again, that He was worthy of my trust. I remember one time in particular where we had messed up the budget for the week, leaving us without money for a few days, and I was down to just a few diapers. By this time we’d burned through our savings and were barely staying afloat. In that moment of realization I felt so much distress and shame and despair, and so I did all I could do – I cried out to God to see my need. I asked Him to take my burden from me because I could not carry it. To clear my mind, I took my kids on a walk around the neighborhood and stopped to get the mail. Inside of the mailbox was a postcard from a major box store that just launched their own diaper brand…for a free pack of diapers. I laughed with joy that the God of the universe saw my need and met it. The God of the universe did not and does not owe me His effort in proving His might, but He was and is so sweet to repeatedly provide evidence to me of His amazing love. My mustard seed grew. Fast forward a few months, and my husband and I were preparing to bring a teenager facing homelessness into our home. It suddenly seemed to make tons of sense that my husband was no longer in a job where he had to travel constantly. That job of his that our hearts had once clung to so tightly – we easily let go of and God provided another job for my husband.
After this teenager moved in with us, our home seemed even smaller and my heart still desired a bigger home. I believed more space would make our lives much easier and more comfortable. God allowed me to have what I most wanted, and just like that we sold our home and moved into a much larger one. I didn’t think much about the way the move would affect the sense of belonging or stability of this child who had moved in with us, who was still adjusting to a new, and likely temporary family. I also didn’t think much about how the move would affect my own biological children who were adjusting to so much change already.
For me, the new and bigger house was a symbol that my plans had not been derailed and that we were still rising the “ranks” as a family. But this wasn’t true, and it was a lie I was trying so hard to believe. I was still trying to live in two worlds at this point. One of my worlds was one where I followed Christ despite the cost. Yet we’d brought in a teenager facing lots of legal trouble and homelessness to live with us, and I wanted to pretend there was not a cost. I wanted to pretend that I could still live in the world I’d lived in before, where so many people I admired were still operating – a world where I could pursue worldly desires and accomplishments. There are several crude ways to say you can’t live in two worlds. On top of everything else, I loathed our huge house. The cleaning took up all of my time and was an enormous burden on my life which was already filled with two toddlers and a teenager who had an enormous amount of court appointments, school meetings, and doctors visits. I began to loathe my worldly possession – the house – and over time, God enabled me to see that it was a burden and actually kept me from enjoying the gifts in my life. I looked around one day and realized I’d been a total fool for thinking that a big house would bring any joy to my day-to-day life. God was so sweet and kind. He did not just expect me to accept a lifestyle that is not materially focused, He showed me by giving me what I thought I wanted. He changed my heart to be aligned with His regarding what I wanted. I knew God was growing my mustard seed into bigger faith, and I was beginning to see that He was moving the “mountain me” out of my own way.
Our teenager moved back with his mom who had been getting things in order, and we knew that we were again facing change. My husband received an amazing job offer that moved us (again) to where we currently are. When we moved, we felt led to be intentionally conservative in where we lived so that we could recoup from the past few years, and move forward with a more clear focus on living conservatively so that we could be better flexible to serve. I laugh now, to think of the night I cringed with fear over God’s ability to move me from my home that I loved, because I now live in 800 square feet with my husband and three children. It’s insane – and while I love not having a huge house to clean or keep up, which has allowed us as a family to focus on our time together, stress less, and open up our finances toward helping more people, I am definitely hoping that God plans to give us a bit more wiggle room in the future. But I now know that I don’t want much more, and I know that even if I am in this home forever, He is still good. So good.
I have had struggles in my life that were what most would consider more serious than financial struggles, but, in all honesty, the stress of money is just so ever present as a parent, and seeing God respond to me on this journey has grown my faith the most. My mustard seed of faith is growing, and I know God’s love is so real; not because He allows us to do what we want, but because He so lovingly shepherded me toward what His will is. I know He is still chipping away at my mountain which is my love of the world and its perceived comforts, and I have faith that He will bring that to completion in me.
If you are standing in any situation and you don’t see a solution, but you have even the smallest amount of faith that God cares for you – hand it over! Ask God to help you in your unbelief. Ask Him to grow your small faith. He is trustworthy to do it. He will move the mountain, just maybe not the mountain you were planning on.