Grow Your Faith One Step at a Time
(Inside: How to grow your faith.)
Have you ever looked at an obstacle in your life – struggling relationships, anxiety, indecisiveness, fear…etc… and concluded the reason your challenge has not moved is that you lack faith?
I get you.
Because we can think if we just have faith as small as a mustard seed, we could move the thick trunk, deep roots and expansive branches of the tree blocking our road. Or at least that’s how I interpreted the famous verse in my early Christian walk.
Luke 17:6: “He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
So in my mind, if I had enough faith, God would reveal the end result and a checklist of steps I need to talk to get there, before asking me to move. Since I never seem to see the whole staircase, my connection with God must be fuzzy.
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Thank you, God, for continually teaching me because what the what? No one told me to interpret the verse that way, my brain just cooked up those dreary thoughts with its perfectionist tendencies. (Don’t Know The End Result = God is Not Talking to You = You Don’t Have Enough Faith. The end. La-te-da.)
This hyperbole (exaggeration) IS teaching us we can overcome huge obstacles by faith. But – ready for this – God doesn’t expect us to know the end result BEFORE we command the tree to move. And that doesn’t mean we lack faith. God most often leads His people by giving them only the next right step. It’s how He moves. We need to realize God doesn't usually show us the big picture, rather the next right step for our faith to grow. #growyourfaith Click To Tweet
But I like proof (I’m hard to convince), so let me share some examples of people who didn’t see the whole picture, only the next step.
- Mary was told she was going to be the mother of God’s son. But Mary wasn’t told how to raise him. What kind of cereal does the son of God eat? And where is teaching math on the importance scale to the Savior of the world? And am I supposed to look after him ALL THE TIME, or can I leave him in the temple teaching while I start traveling home without him? (Whoops.) (Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2)
- Jonah was instructed to go to Nineveh and that’s it. He didn’t fully understand the command and refused to take the first step, so he won a vacation cruise for one in the belly of a whale. (Jonah)
- Moses was given a fun task…to demand Pharaoh to free his slaves with a staff, his brother, and a I’ll-let-you-know-more-when-you-get-there pat on the back. (Exodus)
- Sarah was told she would be blessed with a kid but never when. She complained her ovulation indicator kit wasn’t working, but God just repeated to keep trying. (Lucky Abraham.) That blessing happened so far past her own timing she’d almost disregarded it. (Genesis 11:27 – 21:7)
- The disciples knew Christ was going to die but weren’t told about the resurrection. (Matthew 26)
- God sends his disciples to cities without any hotel and restaurant reservations. Like, all. the. time.
- Philip was instructed to go stand near a chariot with a man he didn’t know in it. Awkward. “Excuse me, why are you hanging out right by my car? You are weird. Go away.” But that’s not what the man in the chariot said. The man in the chariot needed someone to explain the scriptures he was reading, then low-and-behold, a man with answers (Philip) appeared. (Acts 8:26-40)
Do you see the pattern?
God often works one right decision at a time. For those recovering perfectionists like me, this is HUGE! God doesn’t tell us the whole picture – not because He didn’t see enough faith in us to reveal to His entire plan for our situation to us – IT’S HOW HE WORKS.
When I stop and think why we only get a little info at a time, it makes sense. God is pursuing an authentic, daily relationship with us. Just like we have with our loved ones where we achieve connection by talking, hanging out and problem-solving life one step at a time.
Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash
So we pray for wisdom, talk to trusted loved ones, analyze doors opening and closing, get in the word, then – most importantly – we still ourselves before our loving God daily and let Him speak to us from the quiet corner of our hearts. (I think people also call that, “listening to your gut.” They mean God.) Then, we expect to hear from God just the next right step. We can feel nervous, unsure, doubtful; but we know that Jesus is Lord so we command the mulberry tree in our lives to move even though we can’t see the whole staircase.
Next, we listen to our heart and put one shaky step forward.
We wait – again – for God to reveal the next step….
…then we take that one too.
Before we know it, God has moved that mulberry tree in our life. In God’s creative and mysterious ways of getting us where we need to be, the moving of the obstacle in our lives probably won’t play out like we envisioned.
There are so many ways God could have helped us deal with that tree…
- We went around the tree.
- We climbed the tree, victoriously hopping down on the other side.
- We dug a hole under the tree.
- We cut down the tree.
- The tree magically disappeared.
- We stared the tree down until we knew the best step was to 180 degrees around and walk away from the tree.
- We began to see the beauty of the tree (shade on a scorching day), peace grew in our hearts and we stayed next to the tree.
God moved that mulberry tree by changing our situation or by changing us.
So next time, we have a challenge and God doesn’t answer our prayers with a detailed plan leading to his end result – we don’t freak out. We don’t scold ourselves for what we see as lack of faith that led our cell phone connection with God to go through a tunnel and Him to withhold information from us.
We remember how God often works.
One step at a time.
Friends, a whole tree can be moved with a sliver of courage to take the next right step. Let’s stop stressing about the whole staircase and simply look for the next place to put our foot.
Is your life crazy and you don’t always have time to LOOK FOR HOPE?
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