Does Faith Count When It Doesn’t Feel Big Enough?
My faith used to feel so much bigger. These days, it can feel like an afterthought.
A prayer shot off in traffic or as I am already falling asleep. I struggle through any kind of devotional book. I make it to church most weekends but pray with my eyes open and occasionally with my heart closed.
I miss the small narrow faith that felt so consuming of my youth. I miss the simple Sunday school lessons, youth group
concerts and innocent prayers. In college, faith filled living room couches and strummed guitars. I hung out in coffee shops and college ministries.
I made all the usual college mistakes but I still managed to squeeze in a quiet time or go to a Bible study. We wrote our requests on notecards and traded them like baseball cards and taped them to our bathroom mirrors. We prayed long exhausting prayers about things I wouldn’t spend two minutes on now.
Sometimes My Faith Feels Mistaken
Even then, my faith never felt as solid as I thought everyone else’s must. It felt slippery and loose and full of gray and I occasionally wondered if I was doing it all wrong.
Yet at the same time it felt big enough to be true. A truth that I have doubted a hundred times but never managed to let go. Maybe because it is holding on to me rather than the other way around.
When I was small they taught us parables in Sunday school. I loved the one about the mustard seed. Even when I was young, I loved the idea of a faith that only needed to be small.
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you,” (Luke 17:6).
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you,” (Matthew 17:20).
Have a Little Faith
I’m going to be honest, faith doesn’t always work things out the way I want it to. I can believe as earnestly as I want and sometimes the prayers go unanswered. My adult faith has learned to weather seasons when the check or healing don’t come. There have been phone calls in the middle of the night and losses and questions. There have been times when I wanted God to show up and he remained stubbornly silent. It is then that I go back to Matthew.
The expectation has never been a big giant faith.
Only a tiny one. A smidge. A seed.
Like a pebble stuck in my shoe, insisting on being felt, even when I try my best to ignore it and power onward. My faith remains. Sometimes even annoyingly so. When my journey is filled with hard and doubt and hustle faith is a small stone pressing. A reminder. I will not leave you.
Little Faith Leaves Room for a Big God
“You of little faith” is meant to be an insult. Earlier in Matthew (8:26), thrown out by what I imagine as an irritated Jesus, frustrated that his friends who have spent so much time with him still haven’t figured out who he is. Afraid of a storm and his slumber, they do not trust him.
When things are hard, I have been equally guilty of wondering if someone has fallen asleep on the job. I read further in Matthew and how did he respond?
Jesus quieted the storm and then they continued on their way. That was all.
When his friends doubted him, he never punished or lectured. He simply reminded them who he was. My little faith always leaves room for a big God.
I used to be jealous of the people that I thought had such a big and solid faith—those with a deep-seated belief that they never seemed to question or wrestle.
But maybe the questions and the wrestling are what allow faith to expand and include. A faith that bends can also encircle. A small seed of faith has room to grow. It becomes a soft place to land rather than a hard stone in my chest.
Does it feel like your faith is falling flat? If so, we hope you benefit from this podcast episode: How to Handle Real-Life Struggles That Challenge Your Faith – 112