Now, I think of it as Big Snow Blower Day. In January this year, after three consecutive arctic blizzards, it was a delightful relief to watch our neighbour, Don, drive his tractor and snow blower into the huge snowdrifts blocking our lane, augur up the snow, and propel it onto banks higher than my head. With his machines, he cleared our driveway after we had been housebound for the best part of a week.
Don's fifteen-minute visit with the tractor also showed me a real-life, real-time picture to apply to a passage from the New Testament that had puzzled and challenged me for a long time. The snow blower chewing into the snowdrifts gave me a mental image of how something is lifted up and thrown when it looks like an insurmountable barrier.
Mark 11:22-25 – Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown in the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe you've received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too." (NLT)
Prior Greek word study set the stage for my "Aha!" that day.
- "Mountain" was used as a metaphor meaning "overcoming difficulties" or "accomplishing great things". I have come to connect the idea of something insurmountable with a situation I would say "never" about.
- Two Greek words make up the phrase, "pray for anything". One is about worshipping God and the other is about asking, petitioning, or applying for a grant from one in a superior position.
- In English, we think that "receive" implies a passive receptacle. The Greek word is an active verb used when there is the intention to take hold or the choice of acting to grasp.
- "Believe" or "have faith" is to rely upon, be persuaded, or place confidence and trust.
Jesus instructed His followers to speak to things and tell them to be picked up and dumped out of the way. Before seeing the snow blower work that day, I felt silly about talking to things. Yes, I had doubt in my heart. My faith was challenged and built as a result of being snowed in, then asking for help to get out.
After Big Snow Blower Day, I started talking to the intermittent pain of a soft tissue injury that I have been coddling for almost five years. From then on, each time the nagging discomfort arrived, I said, "In the name of Christ, whose I am and whom I serve, injury and pain be lifted up and thrown in the sea," instead of thinking, "This is never going away." I began to expect a tiny improvement, which I found. A week after that, a Holy Spirit "nudge" caused me to begin using an extra pillow to change my body alignment while sleeping. The next morning, I woke up without pain. So I persist in speaking to the injury and pain "in the name of Jesus Christ", and my "never" has become a "soon".
Here is another way that I use that prayer Jesus gave us. I was dissatisfied about a relationship. I have begun to say, "In the name of Christ, misunderstanding be lifted up and thrown in the sea," whenever I think about the situation. My beliefs about the two of us are changing. My "never" has become hopeful.
So, if you find yourself snowed-in, stumped, overwhelmed, desperate, or stalled, and thinking "never", try saying Jesus' words from Mark 11:24 and wait with expectation for the mountain to move.
Prayer: Father, please increase our faith. We ask it in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.