The Mustard Seed Faith Incident

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The Mustard Seed Faith Incident

This past Sun­day marked my fifty-​eighth anniver­sary on this planet. As birth­days go it went all right; a far sight bet­ter than has been the unfor­tu­nate norm the past sev­eral years. Skip­ping the gory details, suf­fice it to say the acronym ASB has oft been used to describe another birth­day. I add that if you gen­uinely need me to spell out what the S stands for, you are quite the inno­cent lit­tle waif.

Not that this year’s birth­day was entirely minus angst and anx­i­ety, with a dash of aggra­va­tion plus ani­mus thrown in for good nature. The days lead­ing toward the event fea­tured sev­eral unpleas­ant moments on mul­ti­ple fronts, this com­ing to a head one after­noon when a work­place inci­dent left me quite angry and not a lit­tle fright­ened. I was not a happy camper.

Related to this, it’s sadly noted a lot of peo­ple I deeply care about have been wad­ing through some deep mire lately. Rela­tion­ships, employment/​financial strug­gles, you name it. With no dis­re­spect meant to the divine, it has been one of those times when indi­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively it has been won­dered aloud whether God is out on an extended cig­a­rette break and His answer­ing machine isn’t accept­ing any more incom­ing mes­sages. Peo­ple, good peo­ple, are hurt­ing. Bad.

Jesus told His dis­ci­ples that if they had faith the size of a mus­tard seed, the moun­tains would obey their com­mand to move. Many of us have faith, yet it seems as who­ever may be order­ing the moun­tains about as of late has decreed they fall on top of us. When you are angry and scared; when you keep crash­ing into dead ends in your job search, when your love life con­sists of strik­ing out before you can so much as emerge from the dugout, when your loved ones (as Terry Scott Tay­lor so bril­liantly put it) mounted up like eagles but now are drop­ping like flies, when you see the loud­mouth cretin down the road lux­u­ri­at­ing with the gor­geous spouse and per­fect kids and well lined bank account while you have none of the above … yes, you do start to won­der, even with promised eter­nity in Christ, what’s the deal. And, how are we sup­posed to deal with a bit­ter, seem­ingly end­less los­ing streak.

Some­times the only way to deal is bury­ing our face in Jesus’ blood­stained robe and cry­ing our eyes out, ask­ing for com­fort and ask­ing Him why. We know the Scrip­ture about how now we see through a glass darkly, but there are times when it seems like the glass is shat­tered and its shards are slic­ing us to rib­bons. We just want it to end. We need tan­gi­ble relief. We need some­thing we can grab onto.

The other night, fol­low­ing the afore­men­tioned after­noon when ele­ments both long­stand­ing and sud­den were kick­ing the stuff­ings out of me, what came to me as a life­line was a song from over forty years ago.

It was a song straight­for­wardly declar­ing faith’s fun­da­men­tal, call­ing the seeker home to the One who loves him or her.

The song reminded me of the joy I once knew as a new believer, burst­ing with love and joy and ter­ri­ble naïveté about how in so many things not only did I not have the answer, I most likely didn’t so much as have the ques­tion right.

It reminded me that through the years, through the high and lows, the doubts and fears, the anger and tears, as well as through all the moments when I felt God’s pres­ence in every fiber of my being, Jesus had remained faithful.

The song reminded me that even in the hurt­ing times He has been and is there, His seem­ing indif­fer­ence an illu­sion belayed by the truth that this, too, shall pass even though in the imme­di­ate it hurts like hell.

It reminded me that there is an end­ing to all this, and there is absolutely noth­ing wrong with whis­per­ing, “Come quickly, Lord; I’ve had enough.”

The song reminded me to trim my sails and turn my ship to the Lord.

It was quite the pleas­ant early birth­day present.

I’ll take it.

https://youtu.be/J4EhhPHrqbo

This past Sunday marked my fifty-eighth anniversary on this planet. As birthdays go it went all right; a far sight better than has been the unfortunate norm the past several years. Skipping the gory details, suffice it to say the acronym ASB has oft been used to describe another birthday. I add that if you genuinely need me to spell out what the S stands for, you are quite the innocent little waif.

Not that this year’s birthday was entirely minus angst and anxiety, with a dash of aggravation plus animus thrown in for good nature. The days leading toward the event featured several unpleasant moments on multiple fronts, this coming to a head one afternoon when a workplace incident left me quite angry and not a little frightened. I was not a happy camper.

Related to this, it’s sadly noted a lot of people I deeply care about have been wading through some deep mire lately. Relationships, employment/financial struggles, you name it. With no disrespect meant to the divine, it has been one of those times when individually and collectively it has been wondered aloud whether God is out on an extended cigarette break and His answering machine isn’t accepting any more incoming messages. People, good people, are hurting. Bad.

Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, the mountains would obey their command to move. Many of us have faith, yet it seems as whoever may be ordering the mountains about as of late has decreed they fall on top of us. When you are angry and scared; when you keep crashing into dead ends in your job search, when your love life consists of striking out before you can so much as emerge from the dugout, when your loved ones (as Terry Scott Taylor so brilliantly put it) mounted up like eagles but now are dropping like flies, when you see the loudmouth cretin down the road luxuriating with the gorgeous spouse and perfect kids and well lined bank account while you have none of the above … yes, you do start to wonder, even with promised eternity in Christ, what’s the deal. And, how are we supposed to deal with a bitter, seemingly endless losing streak.

Sometimes the only way to deal is burying our face in Jesus’ bloodstained robe and crying our eyes out, asking for comfort and asking Him why. We know the Scripture about how now we see through a glass darkly, but there are times when it seems like the glass is shattered and its shards are slicing us to ribbons. We just want it to end. We need tangible relief. We need something we can grab onto.

The other night, following the aforementioned afternoon when elements both longstanding and sudden were kicking the stuffings out of me, what came to me as a lifeline was a song from over forty years ago.

It was a song straightforwardly declaring faith’s fundamental, calling the seeker home to the One who loves him or her.

The song reminded me of the joy I once knew as a new believer, bursting with love and joy and terrible naïveté about how in so many things not only did I not have the answer, I most likely didn’t so much as have the question right.

It reminded me that through the years, through the high and lows, the doubts and fears, the anger and tears, as well as through all the moments when I felt God’s presence in every fiber of my being, Jesus had remained faithful.

The song reminded me that even in the hurting times He has been and is there, His seeming indifference an illusion belayed by the truth that this, too, shall pass even though in the immediate it hurts like hell.

It reminded me that there is an ending to all this, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with whispering, “Come quickly, Lord; I’ve had enough.”

The song reminded me to trim my sails and turn my ship to the Lord.

It was quite the pleasant early birthday present.

I’ll take it.