Has God ever pounded something into your heart that you already knew but He wanted you to see in a fresh, new way? I have been mediating on verses about trusting in the Lord for the past few days and He has been doing just that for me.
From 2 Chronicles 14:11 and Psalms 18 I am hearing God telling me once again that He brings victory to the weak over the strong and that He is my rock, refuge and high tower. Nothing can touch me except it comes through His hand. Psalm 37:4-5 let me know that He longs to give me the desires of my heart and that my trust needs to be in Him. Isaiah 26:3-4 tells me that He will keep me in perfect peace as I trust Him and Jeremiah 17 and Psalm 1 let me know that He will make me like a tree flourishing by a stream of water as I rely on Him.
Just as I am making a list of all the blessing that will come my way because I am a believer in Jesus Christ and because I trust Him, I hit the passage in Luke 17 that always stumps me. It’s a passage I can’t remember hearing a sermon based upon nor is it a parable that people ever say is their favorite. In fact, I imagine there are quite a few Christians who don’t even realize it is there. Luke 17:5-10 goes like this:
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”
Jesus starts out by telling the disciples they don’t need more faith for with a very little faith they can work miracles. Wow! How many times have you heard this? Many times, right? You have the authority and power to cast trees into the sea. In other words, nothing is impossible to you, if you have even a bit of faith.
Then comes the parable. Jesus is saying, “Don’t you ever forget that God is the Master who commands, you are the slave who obeys.” What? Didn’t He just tell me my little faith can do great feats? Didn’t He just tell me that miracles will happen at my command? What is with the unworthy slave remark?
Jesus knew exactly what was in the heart of mankind—the desire for power and getting our own way. He let us know that, although faith is powerful, we are called to obedience first and foremost. God never is at our command, we are always at His. God never owes us anything. We are always undeserving, unworthy slaves. Everything God gives to us is pure grace. He pours it out on us, not because we deserve it, not because we have great faith, but simply because He loves us and loves to give.
This means that the miracles in my life came not because I am a great servant of God but because He is a gracious and kind master. It is not about me, my faith, my obedience or anything I do. It is all about Him.
You see, I started my meditation by asking God for a stronger ability to trust Him. I asked myself if I had the faith of a mustard seed, and if I did, why do some of my prayers seem to go unanswered. There are still problems with our house. I have not been miraculously healed. Although the doctor told me yesterday I am doing better than most people with IPF, he did remind me that it is a degenerating disease. I will not get well but only worse. Our only natural hope is that it happens slowly. As I read the second part of the Luke 17 passage I realized my entire approach had been wrong. It really has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with God. Is He loving? Is He trustworthy? Is He the Master? Once I answer all of those questions with a resounding “Yes,” everything is in motion. I am ready to accept His grace and know that that is enough.
I need to believe, not in Him, but believe Him. My trust needs not to be in the strength of my faith, but in who He is. Faith is to be shown by obedience, not great prayers and lofty deeds. Then I just open my hands to receive His grace.