“Jesus replied, 'Because you have so little faith. 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
One summer activity that can top the list in popularity is taking hikes at the many trails, parks, and mountain ranges that surround our beautiful southland. There is something therapeutic, breathtaking, and invigorating about being out in nature (God's creation). I experience a physical and soul refreshing "reboot" while soaking in the rays, beholding the vast array of wildlife, and taking in the amazing viewpoints.
One of the measurements Jesus used as a gauge for a life-giving, barrier-shattering, and beyond-reasoning type of faith operating in people was this idea of moving mountains. This statement from our Savior comes after a failure on the disciples part. They were unable to set a demon-possessed boy free. This had nothing to do with God withholding His grace and glory from them. Jesus had given them authority, taught them to pray, and had sent them out before to be liberators and laborers of the Good News. In Matthew 10:1 it tells us, "Jesus called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness." In the midst of their setback, the disciples are eager to understand the reason for the failure and Jesus is just as eager to teach them truth about faith. At the surface level I think we are able to comprehend and digest what Jesus is attempting to deposit to His disciples. He wants them to understand that true faith is a type that surrenders fully to the Lord, that is convinced that God is over all and able to do all, and one that causes us to rise in strength and victory no matter the opponent and obstacle. Hebrews 10:23 tells us, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."
Let's join the disciples on this faith trail today with Jesus being our trusted guide. I have often wondered what illustration Jesus would have used in our present culture to convey this Kingdom truth about faith? Perhaps He would have said that true faith can speak to our checking account to go from little to much; to the lab results to go from cancer to clear; to the traffic on the 101 freeway to go from rush hour to no brake lights; to the unbelieving family member to go from a hardened heart to a humble one. In any event, we have the Eternal Word of God giving us an example of a living, pleasing, and overcoming faith through the picture of a mountain being moved.
This mountain lesson can move our hearts today as Romans 10:17 tells us, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." Let's remember that at this time there are not any aircraft carriers, all-terrain vehicles, or navigation apps. In their travels, should they come across a mountain, there were two options. First, they could choose to go around it. This would take them on a considerable detour, making the trip last much longer. The second option of scaling the mountain wasn't a "field of dreams" either. Although this provided a more direct route, the path became much harder. I believe these two physical realities of the journey becoming longer or harder, is what Jesus is trying to get at when it comes to our belief level. If we address our obstacles only at a physical dimension, we either give up trying to get to the other side or we try harder in our own resources and strength to reach the top of the hill. Either extreme can cause us to be void of a true faith in God. Our giving up says that we do not believe God's will is for us to arrive on the other side of the mountain, to a place of rest and promise. Our digging in our heels for the hike communicates that we are to prove ourselves strong in our own strength, as if God is on the sidelines simply watching and evaluating whether we are worthy. One response is a failure and the other is futile, and both lack faith!
Our faith in Christ is not about us wishing something away or working harder to bring it to pass, but it is abiding in God's presence, standing on His promise, walking on His path, and relying on His power. Let's remember that faith is a gift we are to possess. A faith that affirms our identity in Christ; a faith that opens our eyes beyond what is seen; a faith that secures our hope in what is to come. Faith is meant to be at work in us so that we do not see only two options to what we are facing in life, longer or harder, but a reality that there is always something BETTER, because God has released His perfect gift into our hearts. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."
The next time you are face to face with a mountain, don't look for an alternate route, don't buy better hiking gear, but put your faith app into action as you make a resounding confession in concert with a resolute conviction. As it says in Zechariah 4:7, "Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!"