The usual answer is “one bite at a time.” For most of us, the thought of eating an elephant would not be appealing, even one bite at a time. So it is with any problem I have ever had. I am not a patient person. God is all powerful. According to my way of thinking, those two thoughts mean God should just zap any problem and it be gone instantly!
I love verses like Matthew 17:20. It is recorded in that verse that Jesus said,
“Truly I tell you,
if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you!”
I never really noticed there was no time frame attached to the good news of making that mountain disappear. (I also took great comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, which notes that “God knows the Plans He has for you and they are good Plans…” I didn’t notice until later in life that it says God knows the Plans and nowhere does it say He will tell me!)
But back to that mountain. When I encountered a problem recently and was getting quite impatient with its not disappearing quickly enough to suit me, I parked on God’s doorstep and said, “Hey what gives? You said … and I quoted … Matthew 17:20.”
Then just for good measure, I threw in Mark 11:23, which says,
“Truly I tell you,
if anyone says to this mountain,
‘Go, throw yourself into the sea’
and does not doubt in their heart,
but believes that what they say will happen,
it will be done for them!”
I take great comfort in knowing God says for us to “put Him in remembrance of His Word.” Does that mean God might forget what He said and we have to remind Him? No, I suspect He says that, so we will quote His Word to Him and perhaps we’ll understand His Word better in so doing. But I felt very confident in reminding Him of His Own Words.
“You said, xxx. I said to my mountain, xxx. How come it didn’t work? I used the right password. I did what You said to do. I believed You. So-o-o …”
Perhaps it was the wind, but it sounded like a long celestial sigh.
“So -o-o-o-o-o, (He always could hold His Os longer than me!) what? How’s the excavation coming along?”
“Excavation? No, You didn’t say anything about an excavation! I speak. It moves into the sea, right?”
“That’s right,” He said. “One shovel at a time.”
“Oh come on now, You are not even being Biblical. You speak. Things are supposed to happen.”
“True that!” He laughed. “But let’s look at a few time related things. Here’s your pop quiz. How long did it take Moses to get to the Promised Land? How long did it take the “wise” men to find Jesus? How long does it take for the earth to make one rotation around the sun? How long does it take a baby to grow enough to live outside the womb? How long did it take the man born blind from birth to be healed? How many times that Naaman have to wash in the River Jordan before he was healed? How many times did Jesus have to come against satan’s temptations? How long will it take you to understand My Word?”
I wasn’t particularly happy with this line of questioning. It seemed God was stacking the deck. Maybe if I understood His Reference for Time, I would feel better.
“OK, those things did take time. So what is Your Unit of Measure for Time?”
He pulled out The Book. “Read 2nd Peter 3:8. It’s all there.”
I gulped, as I read,
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends.
With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day!”
“A thousand years! So You tricked me! My mountain will never really move!”
“Aw-w-w, come on. Come here and let me give you a little preview of what you may not be able to see from where you are standing.”
I edged a little closer. He scooped me up in His Arms. The view was awesome. Off in the distance, I could see my mountain. Funny, it didn’t look nearly as big from His Arms.
“Go on,” He encouraged. “Speak to that mountain!”
I summoned my best authoritarian voice and bellowed, “You, mountain. I command you to drop into the sea!”
At first, nothing happened. I waited.
‘Say it again,” He said. “Say it like you mean it!”
I yelled with all my might. Nothing.
He was chuckling now. “Wait for it … wait for it …”
Suddenly I heard a cracking sound. I looked again. The whole top of the mountain had fallen off!
“All right! Let’s go, God! Let’s get that mountain!”
He gently lowered me back onto the ground.
“That’s enough for today. Spread out the rocks before you go.”
All around me were rocks from that mountain. I didn’t understand, but I did as He asked. I spread out the rocks.
He continued. “Now walk on them.”
I didn’t want to be disrespectful. So I knew I couldn’t say what I was thinking, which was, “Are you nuts???”
But I forgot He knew every thought I ever had.
“No,” He said calmly. “Not nuts! Just do what I tell you to do.”
I walked on those rocks. At first they hurt my feet, but gradually as I pressed more and more of them into the ground, they became blended together. I puzzled about it, as I fell asleep. I was tired.
In the morning, I spoke to the mountain again. From my vantage point, I couldn’t really see anything happening. But I did hear a faint sound that seemed like the sound of cracking I had heard the day before. And I felt a shower of pebbles falling at my feet. I spread them out next to the rocks from yesterday.
That happened day after day, until I began to actually see the top of the mountain … and each time I spoke to it, more of it fell away. It didn’t seem to be disappearing into the sea. So I asked the Lord about that.
He just said, “That mountain is on the way to the sea. Trust Me.”
Sometimes it was hard. Some days it seemed nothing was happening. Some days only one pebble fell at my feet. Other days, there was a shower. And some days, it wasn’t even pebbles at all. It was more like a fine rain of dust falling from that mountain. It did seem to be disappearing.
I asked the Lord again about it going to the sea. He smiled again, and said, “It’s on the way!”
And wonder of wonders, the day actually came when the mountain was completely gone.
“OK, Lord,” I said. “Now You really must tell me. How did it get to the sea?”
He put His Arms around my shoulders. He whispered, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. I will tell you the Truth now about the Life I bring you out of those mountains. Let’s walk to the sea together. As we started walking, He pointed down … and said, “I told you your mountain was on the Way to the Sea … and so it is.
This is the way. Walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21)
And I realized that all the stones from that mountain had been fused together by My Lord into a smooth road that stretched out for miles ahead of me. It was The Way!
“Check out Luke 3:5,” He said, as He handed me a page from His Book. “Read it out loud. I love to hear My Word!”
“Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.”
I looked up at Him. He was smiling!
“How far is it to the sea?” I asked.
“Oh you want to know My Unit of Measure for Distance … like you wanted to know My Unit of Measure for Time? Well … let’s see … a thousand years is as a day … so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o … (He always held his Os longer than me!)”
“Never mind, Lord. How about we just walk and You tell me about the scenery where we are now?”
He picked me up and pointed to the most glorious sunset I had ever seen!
“And I’m just getting started,” He gushed. “Wait until you see this … and this … and this!”