Like most kids my age, I grew up on “The Little Engine That Could” who, in face of a tough challenge, kept repeating, “I think I can, I think I can,” until he could finally proclaim, “I thought I could, I thought I could.” Disney taught us, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.”
As I grew older, I was influenced by the positive thinking mantra of Norman Vincent Peale. Meredith Wilson brought us the delightful musical, The Music Man, which had con man Harold Hill telling his students, “you don’t have to bother with the notes.” Instead he taught them his “Think System,” which stated all you had to do was think it and it would happen. In recent years the mantra of many motivational speakers has been, “If you believe it you can achieve it.” Over and over we’re taught that road blocks don’t have to stop you. Find a way to get over them, around them, or through them. Be positive and it will all work out.
Actually, there’s something to be said for the power of positive thinking. At least it sure beats the failure of negative thinking. But will a “think system” help you accomplish all your dreams? If you simply believe you can, will you be able to accomplish the impossible?
With God all things are possible. Going to the source of that quote we find Jesus answering a rich man’s question about how to get to heaven. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) That is, if it’s God’s will that something be done he can and will do it. Do you believe it?
Maybe you’re saying, “Yes, I have a faith that is real and strong and true, but I don’t see the power. My prayers are still unanswered.” Maybe you ask, “How do I get a bigger faith?” I’ve asked that question. But a bigger faith isn’t necessarily the answer. Jesus taught us if we have the faith of a tiny mustard seed, we could move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) Move an actual mountain? Do you think of yourself as the doubting, “ye of little faith” or as one with faith the size of a mustard seed, that can move the mountains in your life? In other words, do you believe what you think and say you believe or do you know that without a doubt your faith is real and powerful? That’s what Jesus said. Do you really believe it to be true in your life?
The truth is our faith can move mountains, IF moving mountains is what God wants to do. But this mountain moving faith is not in ourselves. Scrunching up our face and straining our muscles will not move the mountain anymore than the branches of a grape vine “work out” to produce grapes. Our faith produces fruit when we abide in the vine (John 15) and our faith is placed in what God desires.
And still, James tells us that faith doesn’t sit idle. It works. All throughout scripture we’re told that real faith:
Faith feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, visits the sick and those in prison, clothes the naked, gives to others when a brother is in need, has mercy on the poor, gives drink to the thirsty, bears each others’ burdens. (Matthew 25:25-40, Isaiah 58:10, Luke 2:14-18, Luke 3:11, 1 John 3:17-18, Proverbs 31:20, 4:31, Romans 12:20, Galatians 6:2) Real faith works. Do you believe it?
In each person’s life there comes a moment of truth when we determinedly decide to act on what we believe or hide in the shadows of denial; when we choose the will to face our fears and anxieties with action, or we cower in unbelief.
With God all things are possible.
But what happens when God moves in his mysterious ways and your pain and troubles continue unresolved? When the cancer isn’t healed? When your friend’s grief will not be abated? When your pain finds no peace? It is then that he will see you through the struggle.
It takes courage to believe and more so to act on it. Don’t hold on to your mustard seed. Plant it, nourish it, and let it grow. Keep on believing. Your journey’s not done yet. And neither is the entire plan of God for you yet completed.
Whatever mountains you face, keep on believing. Don’t worry if your faith is small. Let it be real by acting on it.