With Faith

My grandson told me that he had to make a Medieval shield in an upcoming school assignment. He could draw one on poster board and cut it out or if he could make one out of wood or metal he would earn creativity points that were up to fifty percent of the grade. He asked, “Would you help me make one?” I immediately responded, “Yes”, you need to sketch out some ideas or designs of what you want and I will see what we can make with wood and metal. I followed up several days later and he had not drawn anything. Later, I inquired again and then forgot about it. After a week or so, we were over at his house keeping his younger sister. He explained that the due date on the shield was two days away and he was going to do it on poster board.

I had been looking forward to working with him and even got an idea for including some metal parts, so I offered to put something together the next day and he could paint it the night before it was due. I thought it would be best to make it rough, so as to look authentic. I fabricated some flashing for the outside edges of the wood and a protruding round metal hump in the center, as I had seen on TV and movies. Before I dropped it off, his parents called and asked if I could make sure he got it painted with the appropriate elements as dictated by his teacher, such as a crest of initials, goals, achievements, and a motto. Although I had not volunteered for this part, I agreed since his parents were both having to work late. 

As my grandson was painting the shield, I said, “If your teacher asks if anyone helped you…”. He interrupted, “Tell them you did it.” “No, tell them I did part of it.” I was concerned he might be tempted to claim that he had no help, but that never occured to him. My wife was sitting nearby and suggested that his part had been rather insignificant. I thought for a moment and I realized that my grandson had acted upon his faith. By asking for my help and trusting in my care for him, he had unlocked, by faith, more than he could have ever achieved on his own. He had acted upon scripture which says many times and in various ways, “Ask and you will receive.”

The spiritual similarity is right on point. We believe our loving Father will give us good things as he has said and demonstrated in the past. We expect to do our part, but we are weak, easily distracted, and limited. God does his part and remains faithful, even when we are not. God does more than we can ask or imagine. We are right to give God the credit and recognize our limits, failings and unreliability. God does not begrudge giving good things to us and His love and compassion reaches out to us engendering relationship. It begins with faith. Yeshua said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 20). 

James addressed those who trusted in themselves and their evil selfishness, saying, “…You don’t have because you don’t ask.” (James 4: 2). Yes, we can ask amiss or for selfish reasons, but true faith placed in God surrenders the outcome and means to God. Our faith may be weak, we may doubt at some point, but that addresses the quality of our faith, rather than its existence. The opposite of faith is self-reliance, wherein we never even consider seeking God. The enemy raises doubts, questions, rationalization, accusations, and lies to quench our faith, hoping to destroy faith and its powerful effects. To build up faith we step-out relying more and more on God and His word, rather than attempting in our own strength to eliminate doubt or by limiting our requests to things we can do ourselves. By doing so we might reduce occasional disappointment, but we will certainly diminish God’s work in our lives, those around us, and the pleasure God finds in us. (Heb. 12: 6).

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

“So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.’ ” Luke 17:6.

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as 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.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” I John 5:14.

The mustard seed is one of the tiniest seeds found in the Middle East.  That is the amount of faith that it takes to uproot trees or even move mountains if it is God’s will to do so.  I am often perplexed how little faith I can muster, not even a mustard seed much of the time.  It is so easy, even as Christians, to face life in our own strength and ignore our great God whose help can be deployed with only a marginal amount of faith in Him.  We are commanded to walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7), although we find ourselves walking by sight all too often.  This results in stress/worry and to be robbed of the joy that we are supposed to maintain at all times as a fruit of walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  But it does not have to be this way.  Further, a mustard seed of faith can help us avoid the lusts of the flesh by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), but this walk takes faith.

So often we are weighed down by our besetting sins and the circumstances of life we face.  Sometimes, for those weak in faith, these seem insurmountable and the equivalent of a mountain.  However, although we are weak He is strong and true mustard seed faith can unleash His power.  The strongholds of sin can be broken and the problems of life faced courageously and with joy and confidence in our Lord that everything will eventually work for our good (Romans 8:28).  We can figuratively move mountains and uproot trees in our life with only a mustard seed of faith.