“For if you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.” – Jesus (Matthew 17:20, Living translation)
For a short while in my career, it was my responsibility to edit incoming obituaries for a local newspaper. A good obituary gives you a mini biography of a person’s life – of who that person was while living out the “dash” in between the enter and exit dates on his or her tombstone.
I noticed a recurrent theme in submitted obituaries – the propensity to describe a departed loved one’s faith as such:
“A woman of great faith, Eula Mae Jones lived a righteous life. In all of her suffering, She never for a moment doubted her God.”
The same sentiment I read over and over – a person’s absolute stead-fastness in faith described. I know it shouldn’t get under my flesh to hear faith described as such strong a thing! What a blessing! But my flesh often allows things to get under it, even though it “knows” better….hings like Eula Mae’s never-wavering, rock-solid faith.
Because I wish I were more Eula Mae and less like doubting Thomas. I don’t want to be Thomas, asking Jesus to prove his identity by the holes in his hands, but sometimes I ask him anyway.
The Eula Maes of the world are not prodigal-istic, but I am. Maybe you are, too. Maybe you – like me – have tried to take her heavenly inheritance and hit the road.
Although it happens less and less as I grow closer and closer to Christ, I’ve struggled with regular, run-of-the-mill doubt. I love God with every fiber in my being, but I’m just a regular human being with regular thoughts. I’m coming to believe it isn’t about knowing at all.
Yes, I know that I know that I know, but it’s not in the “knowing” that I grow. It’s in the trusting anyway that mountains get moved. Trying to wrap my mind around what only my spirit was designed to understand leads to more doubt.
Here’s the thing about doubt – it does not diminish the God’s incredible, powerful love for us one single bit. I know that the Power of Love in the universe is not reduced by my doubting, nor anything else in my power. I know that His power can be magnified in my trusting him in doubtful times.
Here’s what account will be in my obituary, if it is an honest accounting of my faith:
Jana lived a life righteous in the eyes of God, despite her best efforts to screw her life up. Her righteousness had nothing whatsoever to do with her, and everything to do with the God she trusted anyway.
She wondered if God were real on several occasions, but he was not angered by her questioning. Instead, He proved himself in a million ways if she took the time to seek Him – in every gesture of love, in microcosm and macrocosm, in heaven, nature, and laughter. He proved Himself with every sunrise and tide, and through the actions of others who love and trust Him too.
She didn’t understand why bad things happen to good people, or why bad things didn’t often happen to bad people. She didn’t understand many things, as she saw through a glass darkly. But she trusted God anyway. She believed like a child, open and in wonder.
She shook her fist at God on more than one occasion, but in the end, she opened those fists to raise her hands high in worship.
She wanted badly to dis-believe a few times – periods when it would have been less painful to deny his existence than to believe he would allow her to experience such pain. But in those dark valleys, He always courted her gently back up the steep mountain. And she know that He was with her always, even to the ends of the earth.
She had faith the size of a mustard seed – no bigger – but she planted it anyway, small as it was. And God moved mountains by the deep roots that grew into a sturdy, fruitful tree – from such a tiny thing. It only takes a little faith to move mountains.
She was a prodigal daughter, who took off with what God had given her, determined that she could handle life all on her own. And when she returned home broken, Abba welcomed her with a ring for every finger, an embrace for every stubborn doubt.
In all of her suffering, she lived “the dash” honestly and authentically, and God was not diminished by her occasional doubts, but lifted high in her trusting.
And by her date of exit (and entrance into the arms of the God who courted her), she didn’t need to wrap her mind around what only my spirit was designed to understand. The mountain had been moved.
In the end, she believed nothing is impossible!
She was a woman of great faith, after all.