And when they approached the multitude, a man came up to Him, kneeling before Him and saying, Lord, do pity and have mercy on my son, for he has epilepsy (is moonstruck) and he suffers terribly; for frequently he falls into the fire and many times into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they were not able to cure him.
And Jesus answered, O you unbelieving (warped, wayward, rebellious) and thoroughly perverse generation! How long am I to remain with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to Me.
And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked privately, Why could we not drive it out?
He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ~Matthew 17:14-20 AMPThe amplifications of the words unbelieving and faith really jumped out at me, this morning. I've been kind of ruminating on them all day. Unbelief isn't a simple case of not believing something true . . . it's believing in something untrue, some kind of strange version, or mirror opposite, to the truth. Unbelief is following a false tradition, a lie. In order to harbor unbelief in your heart, one's thinking about the topic over which one harbors unbelief must be warped, wayward, or rebellious. That's why unbelief is so hard to make a dent in: it masquerades as faith, and convinces its adherents that they are truly righteous.
Contrast this with faith: a "firmly relying trust". Can I firmly rely upon something false, wayward, or rebellious? Maybe so . . . but it will warp everything else I believe in, because reliance upon something weak (warped things are weakened) requires altering many other things as well. It breeds fear, because the inherent weakness and instability of leaning upon a weak reed is something that the heart and spirit know, even if the mind does not see. And I will rue my false allegiance in the end, when I finally see how that thing in which I trusted has no power to save. If I have a firmly relying trust in something, I don't fear being overcome in that area. I don't worry about being deceived. I don't fret. (Unless I'm actually playing a guitar. ;o)) There is solid resolve, and an easiness of mind and heart, that underlies whatever might come my way, because I have a firm reliance on my God, Who is not only actually Omnipotent, but He never fails me. (I've failed Him too many times to count . . . but He comes through every time I do as He asks. Every time. No make-up work. No spiritual usury. When I turn to Him, He is there, suddenly, in an instant.)
In family study tonight we read in Luke 13 where Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as both a single mustard seed that grows into a tree where birds find haven, and a little yeast that a woman uses to leaven her whole batch of bread. Faith is something that has power. It is a living thing, like a seed, or yeast, that, when fed and given the right conditions, blooms and expands and changes everything around it. The mustard seed grew into a "tree", where birds could nest and roost. It also would have provided shade for small creatures, and been a place where insects could hide. It would help conserve the soil and shade it such that it might dry out less quickly. Yeast changes the entire character of loaves of bread, from nearly inedible bricks to something wonderful and lovely and comforting to eat. Abraham did tell his three visitors that he would fetch them three morsels of bread to comfort their hearts. (Gen 18:5 KJV) In both cases, the conditions must be right: the mustard seed must have moisture in the earth and sunshine in the sky to grow and thrive (mustard is a vigorous plant, not needing especially fertile soil); and the yeast must have dough that isn't too salty, or too dry, or too cold, any of which will stunt or kill the yeast. But when the right conditions are provided, watch out. ;o) Amazing things are just around the corner.
Father in Heaven, I want to provide the right conditions for my faith to behave like a mustard seed, well-germinated and taking off like gangbusters. My heart longs to be able to bless the lives of others around me, to pray healing over those who will receive it, and to be an encounter with the love of God for all those I meet. Lord, keep teaching me. Keep nudging me, keep directing me, keep speaking into my heart. I hear You . . . I'm just fallible and mortal and have weaknesses that I'm still learning to abandon to You. You have saved me from my sin, cleansed my vessel and made me into a new creation . . . I'm not giving up, and I'm not giving in, even though I still sometimes fall prey to those weaknesses. Lord, just keep saving me. And save others by using me for Your purposes. I want to serve. I want to be a part of a body of Your believers. I want to love my husband and children more . . . I want to feel joy in my home, and in my everyday responsibilities. It has been so long, Lord, so long. Come and make us all new, so we might worship You in grace and truth, and Vern and I can bring our children into Your light. In Jesus' name, so be it. Amen.