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You don't need much

1 year ago

A response to Christopher Landau's use of Mustard Seed illustration … an imagined conversation I wrote some time ago:

You don’t need much

“You don’t need much.” said the voice.

“I don’t know what you mean.” said I.

“Much.” said the voice, “You do not need much.”

“Much what?” said I.

“Much of anything, really. “You see,” said the voice, “YOU only need a little, while I make up the rest. I only need a little, while you find even that hard to handle.”

“I’m confused.” said I, “Seriously confused.”

“You don’t need much. You only need a little.” said the voice. “About the size of a pinhead. Or a grain of sand. Or a mustard seed. Not much…”

“I know you want me to ask ‘much of what?’ but I’m guessing you mean faith?” said I.

“You do catch on, sometimes.” said the voice, “And in part you’re correct… in part.”      

You see, most people come to me and think they need mountains of faith either to impress me, or to get anything done, any prayers answered, any hopes fulfilled. But it doesn’t work like that at all.”

   “Its best with just a little. Just enough to help you get hold of my hand. Just enough to trust me - a little. Just enough to begin to become a part of me. That much. That’s all that’s needed to start with.”

“So what about learning, and understanding, and knowledge, and being Christian?” said I. “What about growing in faith? Reading the Bible? Regular at church and stuff like that?”

“What about learning to stand before you can walk, and walk before you can run, and run before you can fly?” said the voice. “What about simply trusting?” 

“I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about things quite that way.” said I. “I mean, I have in some ways but you make it sound so simple, while I find it so hard.”

“Well it is simple,” said the voice, “and it is hard, too. “It is simple to understand, but hard to put into practice because of all the (as you put it) ‘stuff like that’. Too many hoops to jump through. Too much expected too soon by too many people of too many other people - and of themselves. I never intended it to be that way. I still don’t.” 

“Depth comes from knowing me.” said the voice. “And knowing me comes from holding my hand as a child might hold a parent's hand: a little hand in a large hand. A little faith in a large faith. A little trust in me as I place a lot of trust in you. You being with me and staying with me and not straying from me… A pinhead of faith, a grain of trust, a mustard seed that will grow beyond your imagination.”

“So how do I get hold of this ‘mustard seed’? I mean, how do I know I’ve got even that small amount?” said I.

“No problem.” said the voice. “You’re already talking to me aren’t you. So you must believe at least a little bit, mustn’t you?”

“I suppose so. But it doesn’t seem like much at all.”

“And that’s the point. “ said the voice. “Just enough for us to connect. For you to look and for me to show myself. For you to listen and for me to speak with a still, small voice. For you to ask for the smallest of things - ‘Are you there?’ is a good question; or ‘Can you help?’ is another. And the answer in both cases will seem equally small, ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ - “The trick comes in what comes next - your expectations or my presence, your needs or my touch.” 

“I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.” said I.

“No, you won’t.” said the voice, “Not as long as you make assumptions about me, or shoppings lists of needs you want me to meet. Not as long as you throw requests at me without waiting to hear what I think, see what I see, discover what I know to be for the best… And I do tend to know what’s best, even when its not what you want…”

“So where do I go from here, then?”

“You don’t go anywhere. Instead, you sit with me, lay urgency and demands and pleadings just a little to one side (but still within reach, of course) and take my hand. And you trust me. You don’t need much - just a little...”

“You trust me just enough to let my great tree-like kingdom touch your small seed-like kingdom. For the two to become one. For us to become one. And then you can begin to discover how I do things - some in less than the blink of an eye, some a little - or a lot - longer. Your faith takes, perhaps, a single step and you discover that you’ve moved from death to life. Or it takes a giant leap, and you discover that you have learned to wait for something, or you accept the need to change, or to do all manner of things that you’d never thought you could do… before.”

“You begin to discover that my will is far wiser than yours, my priorities far greater than yours. My ways may be inscrutable to you at times, perhaps infuriating, but they will always win the day, always come through - just not necessarily in the way that you would want, or in the time you would demand.”

“That is when you will notice that your tiny, mustard seed-sized faith has dropped into the soil of my will, begun to be fed by the mystery of my Spirit, begun to grow in a love unimagined and unimaginable - bigger than a tree is to the tiniest of seeds. And you will learn that the most important of prayers sounds rather less like ‘Give me this…’ or ‘Give them that…’ and rather more like, ‘…not my will, but yours be done.’

“And when such faith begins to grow you will discover me touching others’ lives through you, growing the kingdom though you, growing you through you. And you will know, as Julian of Norwich discovered, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’”

© Garrie C Griffiths 2012

A Prayer to finish with:

Teach me, O Lord, 

to wait for you, 

to watch for you, 

to seek for you that I may find you.

Teach me, O Lord, 

to listen for your still, small voice 

coming through the noises of the world 

and the clamour of my thoughts.

Lord Jesus, as you sought to do only your Father’s will, 

so teach me to seek only to do his will too… Amen


"It seems to me that ReSource is well-placed, and perhaps uniquely so, to serve churches that would describe themselves as ‘middle of the road’ or similar, with sensitivity and grace; inviting them to experience more of God yet without implying that until they have sacked the organist or ditched the liturgy, nothing much can happen(!)"
Christopher Landau, Director-Designate