Matthew 17:20 has always been my favorite piece of Scripture. I’m not sure when my attention was drawn to it or when I began to cling to it, but it’s my favorite. As a child I grew up in the church. My best friend was the pastor’s daughter and I have amazing memories of playing at the parsonage and getting more than my fair share of the blood of Christ (Welch’s grape juice) on Communion Sundays. I loved my church, the people who introduced me Jesus, our youth choir, church-wide New Years Eve parties, and what it meant then to be a community of faith.
I loved church.
I love church.
As I got older and my pastor changed, my understanding of church shifted. Things got more complicated. What I had learned in church and what I was observing in church then were two different things. But still, Matthew 17:20 remained.
My relationship with the church ebbed and flowed in the next decade, and then I found myself as the accompanist of our church choir in the fall of 2000. This put me right back into the life of what it meant to do church weekly. At this point, my grandmother’s eyesight and bone structure was beginning to falter. While she couldn’t attend church weekly like I was, I remember to this day that every meal we sat down to with one another, she would pause in silent prayer. She didn’t draw attention to herself or her faith – she just lived it. I didn’t realize at the time what an impact that would have on me in the days to come.
My grandmother was an example of faith. She lived and breathed it. She passed it on even when we weren’t paying attention. In 2007, she became part of the Church Triumphant.
Not long after my Gram died, my mom order me a keychain that is a tree with a mustard seed at its roots. She knew of my favorite Scripture verse and ordered it to remind me of my grandma and our faith – individually and collectively. She ordered it from a small retailer from whom each box you received was packaged and had a card with the Scripture verse of Matthew 17:20 signed by a real person. When I opened mine and flipped the card over, I read my favorite Scripture verse and looked at the name…
My grandma’s name.
My middle name.
It took my breath away.
While that story in and of itself is a reason to love this piece of Scripture, there are a lot of other reasons why I love this verse. First and foremost, however, is not this story…but rather this Scripture’s ability to help keep my faith rooted in Jesus. When confronting the every day challenges of life and those of my faith community and my church, this verse has helped remind me that putting my faith in God, centering my life around Jesus, and being open to the Holy Spirit will help me overcome those challenges, those mountains.
But it doesn’t stop there…
What about the days when I am the mountain? What about the days when I am so stubbornly set in the habits, comforts, and understandings of where I am right now that I don’t see a need to be moved? What about the days when I see the need to be moved, but don’t want to lose all of the realities that I have become accustomed to? What then?
I have learned that this verse applies to me as much as it does to any other mountain that presents itself along my way. If I have faith in God – faith merely the size of a mustard seed – I can say to this mountain (myself), “Move from here to there”, and I will move (sometimes begrudgingly); and nothing will be impossible for me.
As my faith has grown, and as it continues to grow, I’ve started seeing opportunities and obstructions as “mustard seed possibilities”, and needed a place to explore those moments. So this is that place, and I appreciate you giving it whatever time you take here.
“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
~ Matthew 17:20