Sunday, March 4, 2012
Mountains Need to be Moved
Mark 11:12 ¶ On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.
Mark 11:13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
Mark 11:14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Mark 11:20 ¶ In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
Mark 11:21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Mark 11:22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
Mark 11:23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.
Mark 11:24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
All of my life I remember hearing this story and have imagined the faith needed to move a physical mountain. I have wondered why we've never seen one moved and thrown into the sea? Why would Jesus have said this if that's what kind of faith it was possible for us as humans to obtain? But in reading it today I began to see more of a figurative mountain. The fig tree represented the Israelites. The proud religious folks of the day were supposed to be out feeding the people around them spiritually. However, they were producing no fruit. Because of this Jesus cursed them. God had given them chance after chance to fulfill the purpose for which they existed and yet, they did not. Jesus, himself, had needed love, care and nurture, but he did not get it from the religious folk of his day. Now, they were cursed and would never again be the people of God that they had been.
It is in this context that Jesus is having this conversation with his disciples. The mountain before them more than likely was Mount Moriah on which the city of Jerusalem was built. Yes, through prayer and in living a life in the power of the Holy Spirit, these disciples were going to figuratively see the mountain of Jerusalem be thrown into the sea. The old would come crashing down in so many ways. The inheritance from God would be passed on to the Gentiles, and the Roman authorities -- those from the sea, would within about thirty years destroy the Israelite kingdom for nearly 2000 years. The mountain was thrown into the sea.
Flipping the channels on television and watching some of the "healing" programs, I think that we have come to think that the power of prayer ought to result in something akin to a magic show. We literally want to say to a mountain, jump up out of your place and land in the sea. However, God's miracles always come after a time of prayer. Why is that? Because God's miracles, very simply stated are just that -- God's! When we spend time in prayer, we become intimate with God and we begin to understand the very heart of God. It is at those moments that we understand what it is that we are to pray for. God wants us to join with him in his work and activity in this world.
Is God in the business of moving mountains today? Yes, I firmly believe he is, but we need to know what those mountains are so that we can be in prayer. Sometimes he does move whole chunks, but sometimes in our prayer lives we discover that it is moved one rock at a time. However, if we remain persistent with him in prayer, it won't be long until we discover that the mountain has been moved.
I remember years ago listening to Glaphre Gilliland present a workshop on prayer and faith in prayer for healing. A young man from the local university had come to her and wanted to pray for healing of an infection on his feet. She told him that he needed to start small -- and he should begin by just praying for one foot. After several days the student came to her and asked when he could start praying for the other foot. She asked why? He told her that the one foot had already healed and he was ready for both to be cured! But his faith had helped him, one step at a time, and one foot at a time.
We may feel God leading us to take on some mountains in our own lives. If so, then let us join together with God ask him to help us know how to pray for the right rocks! Then, may the mountain be moved, one piece at a time and may our faith grow, one rock at a time.
Lord, please help me to seek your guidance in prayer for the mountains which come my way. Amen.