By Chaplain Jeremy Carr
Mountains have great significance in the Bible. Numerous events take place on mountains: Moses/Sinai, Psalm, Elijah, Olives, Sermon on the Mount. Along with their geographical and historical significance, “mountains” have become important metaphors for our spiritual life as well.
In the journey of faith we all aspire to have “faith that moves mountains.” We often find ourselves frustrated and discouraged by the slowness of our spiritual growth, facing roadblocks, obstacles, and setbacks from where we think we should be. Think of the words of Jesus, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21, ESV)
At times faith may be expressed as epic and spectacular, throwing mountains into the sea. More common, however, is a slow-growing faith, which is just as moving. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus states, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Whereas Matthew 21 focuses on the large, Matthew 17 focuses on the small.
Jesus was teaching against the backdrop of Herodium in the distance. Herodium was the mountain palace built by King Herod as a lavish memorial for his own fame. In pride and by oppression, Herod used slaves to artificially raise the hill of his palace to become the highest peak in the area. This process took years, raising the mountain one bucket of dirt at a time.
Whereas Herod forces slaves to build a monument to his accomplishments, Jesus calls His followers (“slaves of Christ”) to grow in faith. In-so-doing we are built up and He gets the glory.
At times this may involve mountain top experiences with epic leaps of faith. More often it involves bucket after bucket, one small step at a time.
What are some large and epic leaps of faith you’ve experienced? What are some small and faithful steps you can celebrate in your spiritual journey? May we never grow disheartened, but may we trust the Lord who is faithful to finish the good work he began within us in the building up of our faith. Life is a sandbox, let’s get to it.