Saturday, October 8, 2016

Devotional 10-8-16

Lost Faith

Lectionary Readings:  Lamentations 1:1-6; Psalm 137; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17: 5-10

The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.”  But the Master said, “You don’t need MORE faith.  If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Go jump in a lake,’ and it would do it.  Luke 17: 5-6. (The Message)

During the spring of 2007, the children of JM were learning a song, “The Kingdom of God is like a Mustard Seed”.  The lyrics for this version were based on the Matthew, chapter 13 version of the mustard seed story.  They were happily learning the song, but didn’t really understand what they were singing about.  Most of them had some experience with planting seeds and watching them grow, but were not making the connection to their own faith.  I had taken pictures of several large mustard plants and I had a spice jar of mustard seeds, but they were not impressed. One of the kids then suggested that we plant some seeds and the adults agreed that it would be a great idea.  I searched the seed packet racks for mustard seeds, but had no luck, so as a last resort we planted 2-3 of the spice jar mustard seeds in small cups of dirt. The kids marveled during the planting that the seeds were so tiny and would be easy to get lost, especially if they were outside and planting in the ground. The kids watered the cups and placed them on the south facing window sills.  I watered them on the following Wednesday, but there was no change—it still looked like a cup of dirt.  I really thought that we had planted “processed” mustard seeds and they were not going to grow anything.  My faith in the whole process was sadly lacking.  I didn’t even have the faith of a tiny mustard seed.

Then, a week after the big planting, the kids showed up for practice and “WOW!!”, the little cups showed some definite green shoots emerging from the dirt.  We continued to water the plants twice a week for about a month.  The mustard plants grew to look exactly like the pictures I had googled on the internet and were outgrowing their cups.  The children talked easily about the tiny seeds they had seen go into the cups and the plants that were now growing.  They joyfully sang “The Mustard Seed” anthem in morning worship and talked about sharing the story of these seeds with their family and friends.  They “got” it….

I, however, still found it difficult to believe.  I didn’t tell any of the kids or the other adults, but I had serious doubts that the seeds would sprout.  During the planting process, I had such a negative expectation that I was planning what I could do to assist the kids with their disappointment when the seeds did not grow.  I fully expected the whole project to be a “bust”.  I had not expected a good outcome, let alone a great outcome.  Thankfully, I was so wrong!!!

In the Luke version, the disciples start the conversation by asking for more faith.  I can definitely understand the desire for an increase in my faith.  In this situation, I felt like I did not have any faith at all.  And yet, God continued to be at work in the situation. God was in charge of the universe and my job was to learn and let go of my doubts. There was no doubt that a plant was growing from a tiny seed. Every seed of faith, no matter how small, is still powerful enough to be used to share God’s love with others.

 Jesus used the description of this common and seemingly well-known seed as a way to explain what was needed to help the kingdom of God grow.  Without a doubt, God has already supplied all that we need to navigate this life.  From small steps, little ideas, initial attempts, etc., great things can develop when we allow God to guide our path.  Remember-- “This little light of mine”-- where a small amount of light can make large changes in the environment.    And then there is “It only takes a spark to get a fire going”…  We all have something to add to the picture.  We need to fully rely on God for direction and not be afraid of the outcome.  God will use every situation, discussion and attempt to advance the cause of LOVE.

Dear God, our guide and teacher,
       We thank you for all the lessons and teachings of your Holy Word.  We are sorry that we do not always have faith in your teachings.  You have said that all we need is the faith of a mustard seed, and yet, sometimes we feel that we do not even that much.  Help us to continue to study and learn from the example of your son, Jesus.  Lead us to the path that brings us closer to you. You are all that we need.  In His Holy Name, AMEN.

Chyrl Budd

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