I’ll never forget the day I was walking down the spice aisle in my local grocery store and noticed a jar of mustard seeds sitting on the shelf. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed, and I just stood there in amazement.
"Woah," I thought. “If one of these grains of mustard seeds can move mountains, I can only imagine what this entire jar can do.”
The Mustard Seed Story
Just days before at youth group, we had been learning about mustard seeds and faith. Diving into Matthew 13 and Luke 17, I learned about faith like a grain or seed. Although I’d grown up in church, Jesus’ words and stories were hitting me in new ways. I’d learned that He taught about genuine faith and how it’s not big and verbose, but that it is actually humble and small. Jesus said faith worked a lot like mustard seeds. Plant tiny little dots in fertile soil and huge bushes will grow. That's the power of God we get to believe in. I was captivated by the imagery and encouraged that my emerging faith would one day be even stronger.
I couldn’t believe that a jar full of hundreds of mustard seeds was just nonchalantly sitting on our supermarket’s shelves. I was grateful when my mom agreed to buy it for me.
A Single Seed
Back home, I took my new prized possession to my room and carefully opened it up, not wanting to drop any seeds in my carpet. I took out one mustard seed and dropped it into a tiny glass container I’d been saving for something special. I loved owning a big jar of mustard seeds, but the one small seed meant the most. I was a young teenager just starting to develop my own faith, a faith separate from my parents’ faith. It felt small, but I believed the truth if you have faith: even a small amount can lead to big things.
A morning reminder
For the rest of my school year, as I got ready for school, the small mustard seed sat on my dresser and reminded me to keep the faith throughout my day. It helped me enter conversations with friends who thought being a Christian was lame, those who had a lack of faith. It encouraged me to keep going to youth group even when my friends didn’t want to go. As I got older, and my faith continued to grow, the mustard seed stayed put, right by the mirror I used to get ready each morning.
It reminded me that my faith in God meant I possessed the self-control to stay pure when I started dating. It helped me trust that I was not alone, God was with me, when my parents kept fighting on the other side of my closed bedroom door. And when the big whammy came my junior year of high school—colon cancer at age 17—I clung to my faith to get through it. Cancer felt so big and scary, but I wasn’t fazed; I knew God was with me. How could I trust so quickly and easily? Years earlier, I’d nurtured a small faith that had started out the size of a mustard seed, and it had grown.
25 Years Later
It’s been over 25 years since I first dropped that tiny little mustard seed into the glass container. I still keep it near me today. In every dorm room, apartment and house I’ve lived in, the mustard seed has stayed right by my mirror and greeted me each morning. It’s reminded me to keep trusting God when my circumstances tell me I deserve a crisis of faith. It’s pushed me to keep trusting in a God I can’t see.
Mustard seed faith has never left me; it rooted me when I was younger, and it’s not going anywhere now. What faith as a mustard seed means to me is that it’s OK to have questions and answers in the midst of following God, because it comes down to belief.
Matured Mustard Seed Faith
This kind of faith has helped me find healing despite facing a second colon cancer in my 20s; it’s helped me embrace adoption and foster care despite my infertility; it’s brought forgiveness, healing and true celebration of my blended family despite my parents’ divorce. Even in the dark moments when I got angry at God, having faith the size of a mustard seed grew roots of trust and belief that wrapped around my heart. Even when I try to turn my back on God, I never make it too far.
Faith the size of a mustard seed isn’t a magic wand: Even if you have faith, mountains don’t exactly start moving right away. But, having faith as small as a mustard seed will eventually grow. It may start small, but if you keep nurturing it, it will lead you to see God’s promises fulfilled, and one day you'll feel like you don't only have one small seed of faith, but a jar full of them.
Prayer: God, I want to have true, genuine faith. I know this kind of faith starts small. I believe. Will you take this small faith I found today and help it grow? In Jesus' name. Amen.
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
This devotional first appeared in the Monday Morning Survival Guide. Subscribe to get next Monday's devotional emailed to you. Read more devotionals from Danielle.
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