Many years ago, a friend gave me a heart-shaped necklace with a mustard seed tucked inside. The mustard seed was so small, you had to look really close to see it. At the time, that’s how my faith felt. I had been emerging from a very long period of doubt that stretched from my early teen years into adulthood.
It wasn’t just that I doubted God’s goodness. It wasn’t just that I doubted God’s love.
I doubted His actual existence.
I wasn’t an unbeliever, exactly. I was, what I call, a “wanna-believer.” I really, truly did want to believe. But a whole bunch of intellectual obstacles stood between me and God. Apparently, being a “wanna-believer” was enough for God. Because over these years, it’s been clear to me that God hasn’t given up on me yet.
For me, the mustard seed has felt sacred. The fact that God could stoop so low to love someone whose faith was so small? Astounding!
In a culture that values strength and abundance, I think we underestimate what God can do with a little. But open the Bible, and there it is: the reminder that smallness does not disqualify you.
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move … and it will move.”
And then, in the book of Mark, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Even though it is the smallest of seeds, “it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade (Mark 4:32).
In fact, the gospels include several instances where Jesus reveals the power of this tiny seed.
After Jesus met me on my own crooked path toward faith, I thought my mustard seed would eventually grow into the size of a sunflower seed, and then the size of a tulip bulb. I believed this, because I’d met men and women with gigantic seeds of faith.
Wouldn’t that happen to me, too?
What I’m learning is that, quite often, I’m still carrying around a tiny mustard seed in my heart. Yet, I’m learning to be ok with it.
I’m learning that it’s not the size of my faith that matters, it’s the size of my God.
These days, I no longer doubt God’s existence. But my doubt shows up in other ways.
I doubt that God will come through when I need Him to.
I doubt that He hears me.
I doubt that His timing is good.
I doubt that He’ll be faithful.
Just this week, I found myself overwhelmed with a long list of demands — and my faith felt too mustard-seed-ish to push through. I reached out to our fearless (in)courage leader Becky Keife and told her I was struggling. I added, “But God hasn’t failed me yet.” Sometimes, a declaration of God’s faithfulness in the past, will propel you to make use of your mustard-seed faith today.
I’m guessing you have your own small-seed stories too. Friend, He won’t fail you.
When you get to thinking you’re too small or weak for the big things ahead of you, think again. Look to the mustard seed. The seed is dwarfed by a pencil eraser. It’s the kind of seed that would get stuck in your teeth. Think dots-on-the-dice small.
But if you stick this seed in the ground, cover it with dirt, and add water, it will push against the earth with great strength. The odds are stacked against that tiny seed, but it doesn’t matter. The seed defies all odds to muscle forth in bloom.
That’s the power of the mustard seed. Scratch that… That’s the power of God in the seed.
And that’s the power of God in you.
Your faith might feel small today. But God says it’s worth something. He says it can move mountains.
Stand back and watch what He does.
And listen… do you hear it?
That’s the sound of a moving mountain.
If today’s post resonates with you, we think you’d like Jennifer’s book Growing Slow. It will help you value the good, small things growing in your life — even that mustard-seed faith of yours.
Kellie Johnson says
Struggles with our faith…something I have experienced, and continue to at times, but is rarely discussed with others. Thank you for being vulnerable and authentic here. Our God IS big and He is not frightened when we struggle, so we shouldn’t be either. He not only can handle it, but He will work through it with us (in my experience). He’s good like that 🙂
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Thanks for commenting, Kellie, and for receiving my vulnerability here with such kindness. I am so grateful to God for never giving up on me, even when my faith was so very small.
This certainly resonates with me. A wanna-believer is the perfect description. There is so much about what you write that speaks to me on so many levels. I struggle with my faith. Yes, I believe but then I have such a problem allowing God to what God does.
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Thanks for sharing your heart, Madeline. God is so good to love us, even when our faith falters. I know from experience!
Loved how you penned this thought!! I’ve come to love the truths & the symbolism of the “tiny” mustard seed! ♥️
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Thank you so much, Tammy! Have you seen mustard seeds before? Every once in a while I’ll see a mustard-seed necklace hanging around someone else’s neck, and I think to myself, “She knows. She understands.” 🙂
Ruth Mills says
Our culture certainly values strength & abundance making it so ironic when they reject God who can take a tiny mustard seed & do great things! It really is about the size of our God! What a wonderful encouragement. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!
AMEN! Oh yes AMEN! Please keep me (AmaTHa), my Mama (Linda), dad (Jimmy), and Cousin (Dean) in your prayers.
Brenda M Russell says
Thank the Lord for High Might and Power working through my mustard seed Faith.
I need to remember how often I have seen God work in my life ( diseases and disorders, family life, marriage, on my jobs, the appearance of lack, the challenge of Depression and Anxiety, friendships, disabilities, disappointments, mistakes, sins, doubts, financial issues, and fears ). I’m so thankful for Victory in my life.
New challenges bring nervousness when it involves my children needing guidance, encouragement, a different job, new friends, rent, groceries and fuel in their vehicles. I’m certain that God is my Source for all my needs ! When will I get used to waiting with a great attitude and not allowing doubt and fear to bombard my thoughts and emotions and my actions.
This is a one day at a time Journey. Yes, God’s Grace is Sufficient for me today.
Patience is a great virtue ! How to embrace it every day is daunting.
I’m learning to cast my cares on Jesus because He cares for me. But often, I think I go back and try to help the situation and get overwhelmed.
I’m praying for all the daughters, wives, mothers and Sisters in Christ. We will keep learning and praying to continue our Journey with mustard seed Faith. We will never give up. We will never give out because the Power that Raised Jesus from the dead resides in Believers ( that’s us ).
I love you all. Thank you for listening.
Enjoy your day.
Your words today gave me the boost I’m in need of. I did have a necklace with the little mustard seed in it, but I’m not sure what happened to it. Thank you for your post. I definitely needed to be reminded of what that little tiny thing can do.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Jennifer thank you for what you wrote in today’s reading to do with your friend giving you the heart shape necklace with the mustard seed inside it. When you look at how tiny a mustard seed is. We have to have faith a tiny a mustard seed in God. There are times we can think where is our faith when we have been praying along time for something and wondering when the answer from God is going to come. We seem to be waiting a long time for it. But then we hear in the back of our mind God through his Holy Spirit speak to us. Say my child have you not got faith even a strong as mustard seed to believe I will answer your prayer. But I will not answer it your way or your timing. You might have to wait and have faith as strong as a mustard seed that I will answer it my timing. Maybe stop and think I am putting you to the test before I answer your prayer to see how strong your faith is in me. That you have faith to believe I will answer it for you. But you might have to wait and keep believing yes God you will answer that prayer requests of mine. I trust you to answer it in your perfect timing not time. When you do everything will fall into place perfectly for that prayer request of mine. I had a prayer one time like that. I did pray God to answer it. God made we wait along time before it was answered my prayer I prayed to God. I was at one stage thinking of giving up in believing God would answer it. As it was taking such a long long time to be answered. Then one day I heard God say have you not even got faith as strong as mustard seed that I will answer for you in my way. Which is best for you. I had to get that small mount of faith again and start believing again. Then God did answer my prayer in his way that was right for me. Only I began to believe and have that faith as strong as mustard seed again. God would never have answered my prayer in the way that was best for me. It taught me never when I pray to God in prayer about something. To never give up in faith that God will answer it in his perfect timing and in his perfect way that right for me. Even if I have to wait for the prayer to be answered. I am to never give up believing it will be answered but not in my timing God’s and in God way. Which is best for me as God knows best. Love today’s reading. Keeping you all incourage in prayer. Xx
Jennifer, what powerful images you’ve brought forth from your little mustard seed heart! God is so good to accept us right where we are. All the time!
Roger D. Williams says
Powerful Message for Everyone, Brenda! 🙂 Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Roger D. Williams says
Powerful Message, Brenda! 🙂 Thank you for sharing it with us! 🙂
Kathy Francescon says
Beautiful post! Think you spoke to many, many hearts today! Bless You and thank you for the encouragement you have given my heart today! I think everyone wishes and strives for a stronger faith, but we must trust that God can make anything grow! Even our mustard seed faith!
Margaret B. says
My first mustard-seed necklace was given to me by my Aunt Margaret, a heart-shaped encased tiny mustard seed, when I was a child of eight in 1966. I didn’t know the significance at the time. Since then, I have bought several more as a necklace in a blown-glass orb and as keychains set in resin… In 2017-18 I was diagnosed with three different kinds of cancer. It was going to be a long journey of treatments & I needed a visible reminder of all the faith I could “muster” to get through everything, so I keep them on my desk with a tiny plaque of Matthew 17:20. I am comforted by the knowledge that this amount of faith is enough because since then, and for most of the ups and downs of my life, that is all I had… Thank you for your post, this was also a great comfort to me to know I am not alone.
Beth Williams says
“smallness doesn’t disqualify you”. How true. Look at David. He was the youngest & smallest of his brothers. Yet he slayed the giant Goliath-he & God. Jesus took 5 loaves & two fish to feed 5,000 men. God can & will take your small faith & grow it. I have proof. I put my dad in gero psych unit at hospital years ago. I was scared not knowing what was to happen. One month later my dad was healed better than before. That trial grew my faith & trust muscles. I went from being a timid believer to a full-fledged Hallelujah, raise the hands believer. What God can do with a little is amazing.
Mary Ruth McNatt says
Whether the first part of my day or the last thing at night, truth and encouragement from (in) courage articles draw me in to God’s love, power, and goodness. I’m renewed and refreshed, knowing God has everything under control. My life is in His hands.
Thank you, team, for shining His light and admonishing every reader to do the same. It is a joy to connect with you and to pray for you.
Connie Burkett says
I love your writing. You are right when you say it isn’t the size of the seed or faith but how big our God is. Thank you for the reminder.