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  • Shirley A Genovese

Growing Faith 1: The Littleness of Faith

A man came to Jesus and fell on his knees as he cried out for help in front of a crowd of people. “I brought my son to Your disciples and they could not cure him.” Jesus replied, “Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.[1]

I wonder what Jesus’ disciples were thinking during this exchange. Everyone knew they were learning from Him. He sent them out to practice their lessons and they had failed this one. What was the secret of Jesus’ success? How could they be more like Him? They asked Him privately to explain their lack of effectiveness. “Because of the littleness of your faith.”[1] Can you see them shrink back a little in embarrassment? Especially after He went on to say, “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 to you.”[1]

 Another time, Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?” The lesson had started. “It is like a mustard seed,” He explained, “which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” [2]

Consider This: A long time ago, I was sitting on my front porch, whining to the Lord, about our non-existent lawn. It was a common complaint He was hearing. It had been a year and the contractor had not prepared the soil for grass seed. This time His response was different. He opened my eyes to see our yard as if for the first time. Everywhere I looked, on all sides, wild mustard seed plants were flourishing. There was a sharp intake of breath, as I realized what He was telling me. I felt a little like the disciples must have as they learned about the mustard seed. I had substituted something else in place of the faith I needed to address the problem. I am convinced that He was smiling as I absorbed His answer to my complaint. Literally surrounded by a faith lesson, I had not seen it. Shortly after that, He provided a strategy which lead to a lawn. But on that day, all I could do was point my camera to take photos so I would never forget the goodness of God and the creativity with which He taught me.

My complaint was of little eternal significance and it was not a life or death matter; or was it? Nothing is too small for God to care about. If it matters to me, it matters to Him. He likes to turn me around and show me how He sees the situation. I can almost hear Him chuckle after He imparts His perspective, because it all seems so simple then. Other times, I sense the seriousness of His response and realize a life changing lesson is heading my way.

When we hear references to the littleness of our faith, there is a definite reaction. Our responses vary from chagrin to shame or discouragement and a determination to try harder. I do not think that Jesus wants us to feel this way. He is kind, patient and knows it takes time to learn how to navigate our walk of faith. What I see weaving through His combined explanations is the principle of growth. ‘It takes time and intention”, I hear Him saying, “to cultivate faith.” He was not scolding or belittling His closest friends. I believe His concern was that He knew His time on earth was short and these were the people who would be carrying on the all-important work of showing the world the Father and His redemptive plan.

When we apply ourselves to know the Father (God), faith will grow large and strong in us because our vision will increasingly be on Him and not on the situation. It will be on His love, mercy, and power to bring change. When the truth that nothing is impossible for God, fills our hearts with the understanding that He has not left us to fend for ourselves, a shift occurs in us. We live from a different perspective. Faith, planted and cultivated in the garden of our hearts, begins to grow until it looms larger than our problems. It is life changing in its empowerment. Our mountains begin to move as we speak faith and we learn nothing is impossible for us as we live in the shadow of the Mighty One.

Meditate on This. See the Father. Let Faith Grow.

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.  

His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.

Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.

He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation![3]

God is speaking to many people through this engaging book. If you know anyone who needs more hope in their lives, please share this information with them.

[1] Matthew 17:19-20 NASB

[2] Luke 13:18-19 NIV

[3] Psalm 91 NIV

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