How Big is a Mustard Seed?


At church, a missionary from Guatemala shared a testimony about a construction worker who’d had an accident. The man had been repairing electrical wires on the third story of a building when he was electrocuted and flung off the roof into more wires, was electrocuted again, then fell the three stories to the pavement bellow, cracking open his skull. As the missionary and a crowd gathered round, it was agreed that the man was dead. Then the missionary prayed and the man started to sit up. Long story short, after this horrific accident that nobody had any business surviving, the man was raised from the dead.

The thing that caught my attention was the missionary’s statement. He said that after he saw the man lying on the ground, and everyone was sure he was dead (the missionary even examined the head wound and saw the man’s brains) the missionary said he had no faith the man could live. He said that he proclaimed the man dead and only prayed because he kicked into religious mode and praying is what spiritual leaders do. He said he knew the man was dead, but also knew that God can do whatever He wants.

The prayer was only thirty seconds long and even when the man started to sit up, even when he rose to his feet before the ambulance got there, the missionary and the other witnesses were convinced he wouldn’t make it to the hospital. It wasn’t until the doctors said they could find no internal damage, no broken bones, and only a minor cut on the back of his head, that the missionary could say with any confidence that the man would live.

I always expect these testimonies to have a claim of mighty faith, the huge amount of faith you need to make a miracle happen.

Turns out, God doesn’t need us to have a ‘huge amount of faith’ before He does what He wants to do.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been struggling for more faith. I’ve been recalling verses like Mat. 9:29 which says, “It shall be to you unto your faith” or Heb. 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

I’ve been walking around under the assumption that I have to reach a certain level of faith before God will move on my behalf.

Listening to this story, however, reminded me of the father in Matt. 9:24 who said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief,” or the famous ‘mustard seed’ verse from Mat. 17:20. I think I’ve been going about faith the wrong way.

 I don’t think it’s quite as important how much faith I have, so much as what, or rather Who, my faith is in.

I can have a huge amount faith in my ability to fly, but when I take a swan dive off a cliff, I’m gonna splat, no matter my amount of faith. To think that if I achieve a high amount of faith, God will answer my prayers is both manipulative and arrogant.

It’s as though God has risen from His throne and is anxiously pacing back and forth, hoping I can pull together the needed amount of faith in time for Him to help. Or that if I reach a certain quota, God will have no choice but to give me a miracle.

Of course, strengthening our faith in Him is important because it means we will trust Him with more of our lives and put Him first more often, therefore growing closer to Him. But He doesn’t need us to have a certain amount of faith before He shows up in our lives. In fact, without the grace of God, we wouldn’t have any faith anyways, so it’s really God’s show from beginning to end.

If my faith is in God, then who’s responsibility is it to act? His. If I’m thinking that I need a certain level of faith, then I’m really putting my trust and belief in myself, convinced that God needs my help. But God is God, and He has ultimate authority regardless of how much I believe that. What really matters is that I believe in Him, trust in Him, and rely on Him to do what He knows is best.

I can move mountains even with faith the size of a mustard seed. Why? Because I’m not actually moving the mountain. God is.

I need to stop stressing and focusing on how much faith I do or don’t have, and start focusing on Who I’ve put my faith in.

God doesn’t need my help, my advice, or my permission. He doesn’t need me to believe that He is God in order for Him to be God. He will have His way with or without my faith. But He is loving and gracious and enables me to trust Him. He lets me focus on Him. This is a precious gift that I need to just accept and rest in.

He is God and He will work according to His good will. And even if His good will differs from my good will, I know I’ll be alright, “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Tim. 1:12.

(Originally published 9/9/13)


About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

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