It’s one of the famous sayings of Jesus, that he tells his disciples about having faith as “a mustard seed.” In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge notes the familiar characteristics of a mustard seed that do much to explain what Jesus meant when he used the metaphor.
It is a very tiny seed, Sorge says. “It grows very quickly and quite tall. Being an annual herb, it has striking growth – some plants will grow as high as twelve feet in a matter of weeks.” And I would add one more: the flower of the mustard plant is beautiful (as shown in the photo above).
Faith, like a mustard seed, can grow. It can grow quickly. It can grow large.
And because it is an annual herb, it has a season, like a life has a season. It’s created, born, flourishes for a set time, and then declines, ultimately ending in death. Death s a part of the natural order of life.
I’ve been pondering this idea of seasons lately for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the recent death and burial of my mother. She was 90; she had lived a long life. Her seasons had come and were finally gone. From dust to dust.
My father died some 27 years ago, and the passing of my mother means more than just being without parents. It means I’m coming to assume the place of my grandparents. My father’s mother was the same age I am now when I was born. My mother’s mother was 10 years older. I never knew either of my grandfathers.
I am now of their generation. It’s an odd feeling, and yet it’s part of the natural order of life.
I think about my grandmothers and this question of faith. My mother’s mother was a staunch Lutheran, as was my mother. My father’s mother, the one I closest to, was a staunch Southern Baptist (my father was not). The story of my two grandmothers’ faith, or faiths, is part of that mustard seed understanding. In ways that perhaps even they didn’t know, they contributed to my faith. Just like, in ways I may not even know, I’m contributing to the faith of my two little grandsons.
Mustard seed faith grows large and can occupy a lot of space.
And it is something that can be quite beautiful.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. This discussion of the chapter “Don’t Cast Away Your Confidence” concludes the discussion of the book. To see more posts on this chapter, please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.
Photograph by Morena Sangiorgio via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.
I encourage you, Glynn, to write a memoir using that title "A Mustard Seed of Understanding". You write of your family beautifully.
I, too, love it when you write of family, but I am sure you're not surprised about that.
Sorry to hear of your mother's death, but what a long life she had and what a legacy you are.
Great reflection here. As always.
I'm with Maureen on this one, Glynn. This is lovely - and so very true. We are waiting now for both of our mothers' lives to end. One is 92 1/2, the other 98. They both have dementia. And we are also looking forward to the first college graduate among our grandkids this spring. We are the elders, no doubt about it. And you're right, it's a strange place to be. But also quite wonderful. My continuing sympathies on the loss of you mom, Glynn. Do you know Luci Shaw's wonderful small poem, "When Your Last Parent Dies?" I use that poem a lot with friends who find themselves parentless - at any age. Blessings to you as you settle into this new space in life.
My youngest was born when i was 41. My mother said that this child would keep me young. When my parents died within a month of one another, i felt the loss of having someone older and suddenly felt like i was older. I wonder if instead of a child keeping one feeling young that perhaps it is actually having a parent. Certain responsibility slides upon the shoulders of a child of any age without a parent.
After all these years without them, i still catch myself thinking of something i would like to share with one of them, for a very short moment, and then realizing that i can't.
Or i come across an old letter in a book...and i find myself thinking of them in a different way, now that time has passed. I see him or her as a person instead of mainly as a parent.
I loved that understanding about the mustard plant and seasons--so glad you brought it out. It's so helpful to understand how God moves us from faith to faith, glory to glory. You can't go back to the old because it's not there, and God is certainly not there. Wonderful reflection as well with your family. Thanks so much for being part of these discussions, Glynn. It has been a tremendous blessing!
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