He 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 (Faith that moves mountains)
In Matthew 17:20 Jesus directly correlates our faith, or a lack there of, to the outcome of certain situations. As a believer, I find this verse so encouraging, and yet so challenging. It’s encouraging in that Jesus is telling us that we have the power within us to move mountains in accordance with His will. That’s amazing! It becomes challenging, however, when I don’t see mountains move that I know are 100% in line with God’s will. If God tells me if I have enough faith the mountain will move, and the mountain does not move, then the only thing left to question is my level of faith.
Now that’s difficult!
Questioning our level of faith forces us to look deep into our heart and ask the question, “Do I TRULY believe?”. When applied in a healthy way, this question will encourage us to get alone with God. It will encourage us to work out the things in our heart that are causing unbelief. On the contrary, questioning our level of faith is challenging. It can push us down the slippery slope of a works based mentality. If we are not careful, we might start to believe the lie that if our prayers are not being answered, then God doesn’t love us. We may start to believe that He loves us less.
I am going to attempt to paint a healthy picture of what it looks like to wrestle with our faith.
A good friend of mine provided some insight on this topic that has really brought me some clarity. My friend said, “Our level faith is more linked to our worldview than our level of effort.” – He further clarified this by stating that the faith that moves mountains isn’t like some “Harry Potter magic”. It’s not like if we learn the perfect formula (i.e. the perfect words, the perfect posture for prayer, and the perfect volume in our voice), we are emulating greater levels of faith that make God respond. Rather, the faith that moves mountains is something that is simply ingrained in our hearts and minds. It is based on the way that we see God, and the way that we see ourselves through His eyes.
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In other words, we don’t have to strive and strain to muster up the faith that moves mountains
Jesus never had to psyche himself up before performing a miracle. He never had to had to yell or scream, or repeat himself over and over to make mountains move. They just moved when He spoke, because there was not a shred of doubt in His mind. Jesus was so confident in who His Father was, and so confident in who He was, that there was no doubt in Him. His identity was fully settled, and what He believed about God’s nature was fully settled. The miraculous things that Jesus did in the open were merely a byproduct of all the time that He spent with His Father when no one was looking. It was in that intimate time that God’s will became clear, and Jesus’ identity was firmly established.
When Jesus went to heal someone, He wasn’t trying to settle in His heart if it was God’s will to heal that person. He knew God intimately, and He understood the will of the Father. Jesus also wasn’t questioning His identity (i.e. whether God wanted to use Jesus to carry out His will on earth or not).
When Jesus went to calm the storm, He didn’t have to yell and scream!
He didn’t have to repeat over and over, “I bind you in the name of Jesus“. Jesus calmly got up and said to the wind and waves, “Quiet! Be Still!” He knew that was all He needed to say, because He wasn’t busy wrestling with doubt. There wasn’t a question as to whether God wanted to calm the storm so that He and the disciples could cross safely or not. Jesus did not entertain the thought that maybe this storm was just God’s will. He didn’t have to stress and strain and fight with the storm. His identity was firmly established, and there was no unbelief.
I have witnessed God do some incredible things.
I have witnessed God give people brand new hips. I’ve seen him deliver people from addictions and legs literally grow right in front of my eyes. I have also been in several situations where I have prayed and absolutely nothing happened. The mountain did not move! It would be easy in those moments to think that maybe I just didn’t follow the right formula. Or I could formulate some theology as to why it wasn’t God’s will to move in that situation. Both would make me feel better and more in control, but both are destructive and not the truth.
The truth is that we cannot put God in a box. All we can do is get alone with God, and talk with Him about what happened. We can allow Him to continue gently molding us into the Image of His Son. While also making sure we know that we are still accepted.
As I look back at the times where I saw God move miraculously, I can honestly say there was no yelling or screaming.
There was just a quiet confidence that God was going to do what He said He would do. I simply knew that He was God. I knew that He wanted to use me to carry out His will. Because of that, I could simply say to that mental stronghold, “Go“. I could say to that physical infirmity, “Be healed.” The faith that moves mountains can’t be conjured up or manufactured. It is developed. It is carefully woven deeper and deeper into our spiritual DNA with every second that we spend in the presence of our loving Father in Heaven. Remember today that you already have the faith that moves mountains within you!