Freshly returned from a road trip around the southwest, we got a great word from our pastors yesterday. They visited the Grand Canyon and other stone-based sites. Inspiring pictures, to say the least. Our pastor’s wife shared about moving mountains.
The main text was Matthew 17:20: “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “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.”
This scripture always puzzled me. I’ve heard it proclaimed as a “name it and claim it” scripture. Ask God for whatever you want, and if you believe for healing-job-spouse-child-found pet, you will get it. Period. And, of course, if for some oddball reason you *don’t*, it’s because you didn’t have enough faith. That seems a rather negative interpretation to me. Norman Vincent Peale used this verse quite a lot to get people to think more positively. But faith isn’t simply positive thinking. That’s only a starting point.
Mrs. Pastor focused on the mountain-moving portion of the text. She mentioned seeing bulldozers and other heavy machinery moving a mountain out of the way of construction. She’d never seen a mountain removed any other way. I must confess whenever I heard this scripture in the past, I always pictured a ginormous hand coming up, scooping out the featherweight mountain, and tossing it into the sea or perhaps an equally ginormous shoulder. It never happened gradually in my mind. It was one and done, always. I mean, God can do that, right?
She went on to talk about how our speaking to the mountain impacted the mountain as well as us. She explained the power our words have to create reality. They do, for us and for others, especially God’s words in a situation. Then I saw something else. She clarified her point more, and I got a visual of a mountain, tall and barren, cracking under the pressure of our positive confession. Just a few hairline cracks here and there, but then, crash! It crumbled. It’s much easier to move a mountain when it’s broken into bite-sized chunks. We have something to grab and haul away. Our words begin to break down the obstacle, like a holy pickaxe.
Then I realized the bulldozer analogy made sense. The removal of mountains in our lives begins with our deciding it has to go, to telling it to go in no uncertain terms, to making it go. We start to see our way clear to get where we need to. Our choice of words fuels that. The mountain just doesn’t disappear all at once. We don’t erase our debt with one large payment – unless we win the lottery or a wealthy relative blesses us with an extravagant inheritance. We persevere and live within our means, paying off our debtors. Jesus doesn’t deliver us from our fat overnight. Otherwise, we wouldn’t learn how to take care of our bodies. True, miracles happen to people every day. But with God’s help, we get to be the instigators of our own miracles.