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Little things like mustard seeds

Small things. A prayer of a single word- thanks, help, wow.

The two minutes it to takes to remember a bible verse and recite it as I take a few deep breaths. Be still and know I am God. I have used that one for years.

On this “we” journey of following Jesus our faith is strengthened by the presence and witness of one another. Recently a friend shared one of his “go to” bible verses:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

-Joshua 1:9

There are lots of words to choose from in this verse. It comes to me after a tough week of little things not working out and big things that need to be addressed. So, I take a breath. This time I am inhaling “be strong” ,exhaling “and courageous” . A new bible verse strengthens my faith muscle. I do the next task in front of me. Pausing I breath in “God will be with you” and exhale “wherever you go”.

Joshua 1:9 from ancient of days is like a mustard seed that is planted and it grows and reseeds and is spread. A friend shares it with me. I now share it with you. Little things, small things, a breath, a prayer, a pause they all strengthen that faith muscle.

A mustard seed.

Faith the size of a mustard seed. We will hear together Luke 17:5-10 in which Jesus tells those who are with him little things can make a big difference. When the apostles ask for “bigger” Jesus responds that even the smallest is enough.

Our human nature of “bigger is better” and a culture of more is never enough and the seduction to super-size everything is called to task by this Jesus. Mustard seeds are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are usually about 1 to 2 millimeters (0.039 to 0.079 in) in diameter and may be colored from yellowish white to black.

This weekend we hear Jesus respond to those who are asking for an increase in faith that mustard seed sized faith is more than sufficient. For many years thinking of faith as more of a muscle than a set of beliefs has helped me understand what Jesus is getting at in this text. Context also matters. Jesus is on his way to the cross. This is not the easy street or a road to riches. Pain, suffering and death are ahead and to keep on following this Jesus it’s not about “bigger is better” and a miracle that can give them something they don’t already have.

That is part of why this metaphor of faith as a muscles works for me. We all have been given it already, it is how we have been created. And just having it doesn’t necessarily mean it is strong, resilient, functioning. Like some of the other muscles in our body that change as they are exercised that is part of the metaphor for me with the “faith muscle”.

There are certain ways the faith muscle can be strengthened. This has encouraged me to develop a variety of faith practices. Journaling, keeping a God box, prayer, worship, intentional generosity and stewardship of my financial resources, using scripture as a breath prayer, Lectio Divina, meditation… so many ways to exercise that muscle. And over the years the variety of practices keep that faith muscle resilient especially in tough times.

That led me to ask, “what is the smallest muscle in the human body?”. The stapedius is the smallest skeletal muscle in the human body. At just over one millimeter in length. Its job is to support the smallest bone in the body, called the stapes, which is part of the middle ear and helps conduct vibrations to the inner ear. So small and hidden we don’t see it or know it’s there and we all have it.

Funny thing the stapedius and a mustard seed are just about the same size.

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