Friday, September 12, 2008

It Doesn't Take Much

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)

". . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8)

Ever heard of the Armoured Mistfrog? Me neither. Australia’s tropical northern region is home to this species, but none have been seen since 1991. At 1.5 inches long that’s not surprising. They’re easy to miss. But the long absence of their short bodies has led scientists to conclude that the species is extinct, killed off by a fungus that has infected the area.

Now the scientists are re-visiting that conclusion. A doctoral student at James Cook University in Townsville recently came across the Armoured Mistfrog while conducting research on another frog species. This has to be the academic equivalent of winning the lottery!

So . . . we thought they were extinct, gone, wiped out. But we’ve seen them again. They exist. They live. They aren’t mighty and numerous, but they are there.

Once, Jesus told a parable about a persistent widow and her repeated demands for justice. The parable was told so that we would not grow weary and falter in our prayers. At the end of the story, Jesus asked a question. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Good question. I’ve wondered that myself a time or two. There are days when it seems extinct, real faith that is. I know it must be out there somewhere, but there are moments when I’m not sure it’s in me. Too much tragedy and senseless violence and starving masses and children orphaned by AIDS – all of that erodes what faith we have. We’re not sure it’s still around.

I understand well the urgent request of Jesus’ first followers. “Increase our faith.” The Greek is better rendered “add faith to us.” However you say it, the gist is the same. We need more faith. We don’t think we have enough, and we know there’s more to be had.

Jesus’ reply to their request should encourage us. Jesus said that the faith of a mustard seed could do powerful things. With mustard seed faith they could command a tree to throw itself into the ocean and it would happen. In other words, we want more faith – but Jesus tells us it doesn’t take much.

This may be one of those days when faith seems hard to find. You haven’t seen it in a while and you’re not sure it’s there. But remember, it doesn’t take much. God does great things with mustard seed faith.

Like the Armoured Mistfrog, you may not have seen it for a while, but that doesn’t mean your faith is extinct. It may be small, but it’s there – and that’s o.k. Offer God what faith you have and live this day knowing that God can do plenty with that.

Lord Jesus, we ask today what your first followers asked: increase our faith. We want our faith to grow and flourish – and yet we know that you can do great things with even a little faith. So help us to live this day trusting in what you will do more than in what we feel or see. Our faith – every bit of it - is in you, our great and good God. Amen.

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