Here I am, trying to make the adjustment to a new smartphone, and finding the task just about impossible.
Yet I follow the Master who says: “Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Can this be the inspired word of God I’m reading? If it is, then I’m finding it hard to square with my experience.
And I get no comfort from the rest of that verse. Check it out: “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
I say I have faith. I preach the faith. Yet I pass the San Gabriel Mountains, and I do not see them move. In fact, at rush hour, my car barely moves.
Does that mean my faith is smaller than those tiny mustard seeds I see with the spices in the grocery store?
It’s not just me, I know. This issue — the issue of faith — is a challenge to everybody I know. What does it mean to have a little faith or a lot of faith?
It’s a kind of knowledge, but it is more a kind of trust. When I was a kid, I did not always understand the choices my parents made for me; but I knew they had more information and they had my best interests at heart. I trusted them. I had faith in them. They had brought me into the world and kept me fed, clothed, and entertained for seven years, ten years, twelve years, and it was a good bet that they would get me through another day.
To have faith is to trust God — and to walk the way he is calling us to walk. God wants us to be his children, and so he is calling us to walk the path his son walked. He wants us to live the life his son lived.
If we want to pray with faith, we need to read the fine print of Jesus’ instructions: “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” I read that sometimes, and I think: “Great! I just gotta name it and claim it!”
But look closely at what he says: “Whatever you ask in my name …”
When I ask for an easy life, am I really asking in His name? Am I really asking in faith?
Jesus did not have an easy life. He worked hard. He took courageous public stands. He was ostracized. He was prevented from doing the things he wanted to do. He was rejected, silenced, tortured, and killed.
He passed through all the sorrow in order to arrive at glory — a glory he’s prepared for all of us.
He trusted his Father. Jesus trusted the Father even when everything that was human in him resisted “the cup” the Father wanted him to drink.
That is the kind of faith that makes things move. That is the kind of faith that moves people to love. That is the kind of faith we need to have. As Saint Paul put it, “If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”
OK, so the San Gabriel Mountains may continue to defy me — but so what? I do not need them to move. I need my soul to move — and it needs to move from prayers that are “Gimme, gimme” to prayers that are “What can I give? How can I love better?
Those are the prayers that move mountains. Think about the mountains that have moved in recent years and decades. For the first time in human history, an anti-slavery movement succeeded. It was a movement of faith — a religious movement.
The civil rights movement went forward from the same starting point: the Christian religion. I think of those photos I saw in my textbooks when I was growing up. Priests and nuns and busloads of their students went into the South to help integrate areas that were segregated.
Their prayers moved mountains — mountains of settled law, hardened wills, established customs, long-lasting prejudice. Those people — Catholic like me, dressed like me — were hosed down, but they got back up. And they prayed harder.
They knew, because Jesus had told them, that nothing would be impossible for them. He would grant anything they asked — and anything you and I ask — in his name.
How big is your faith? I am working on mine. Let us keep each other in prayer!