Many years ago, a friend gave me a heart-shaped necklace with a mustard seed tucked inside. The mustard seed was so small, you had to look really close to see it. At the time, that’s how my faith felt. I had been emerging from a very long period of doubt that stretched from my early teen years into adulthood.
It wasn’t just that I doubted God’s goodness. It wasn’t just that I doubted God’s love.
I doubted His actual existence.
I wasn’t an unbeliever, exactly. I was, what I call, a “wanna-believer.” I really, truly did want to believe. But a whole bunch of intellectual obstacles stood between me and God. Apparently, being a “wanna-believer” was enough for God. Because over these years, it’s been clear to me that God hasn’t given up on me yet.
For me, the mustard seed has felt sacred. The fact that God could stoop so low to love someone whose faith was so small? Astounding!
In a culture that values strength and abundance, I think we underestimate what God can do with a little. But open the Bible, and there it is: the reminder that smallness does not disqualify you.
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move … and it will move.”
And then, in the book of Mark, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Even though it is the smallest of seeds, “it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade (Mark 4:32).
In fact, the gospels include several instances where Jesus reveals the power of this tiny seed.
After Jesus met me on my own crooked path toward faith, I thought my mustard seed would eventually grow into the size of a sunflower seed, and then the size of a tulip bulb. I believed this, because I’d met men and women with gigantic seeds of faith.
Wouldn’t that happen to me, too?
What I’m learning is that, quite often, I’m still carrying around a tiny mustard seed in my heart. Yet, I’m learning to be ok with it.
I’m learning that it’s not the size of my faith that matters, it’s the size of my God.
These days, I no longer doubt God’s existence. But my doubt shows up in other ways.
I doubt that God will come through when I need Him to.
I doubt that He hears me.
I doubt that His timing is good.
I doubt that He’ll be faithful.
Just this week, I found myself overwhelmed with a long list of demands — and my faith felt too mustard-seed-ish to push through. I reached out to our fearless (in)courage leader Becky Keife and told her I was struggling. I added, “But God hasn’t failed me yet.” Sometimes, a declaration of God’s faithfulness in the past, will propel you to make use of your mustard-seed faith today.
I’m guessing you have your own small-seed stories too. Friend, He won’t fail you.
When you get to thinking you’re too small or weak for the big things ahead of you, think again. Look to the mustard seed. The seed is dwarfed by a pencil eraser. It’s the kind of seed that would get stuck in your teeth. Think dots-on-the-dice small.
But if you stick this seed in the ground, cover it with dirt, and add water, it will push against the earth with great strength. The odds are stacked against that tiny seed, but it doesn’t matter. The seed defies all odds to muscle forth in bloom.
That’s the power of the mustard seed. Scratch that… That’s the power of God in the seed.
And that’s the power of God in you.
Your faith might feel small today. But God says it’s worth something. He says it can move mountains.
Stand back and watch what He does.
And listen… do you hear it?
That’s the sound of a moving mountain.
If today’s post resonates with you, we think you’d like Jennifer’s book Growing Slow. It will help you value the good, small things growing in your life — even that mustard-seed faith of yours.