Luke 17: 5-6 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
Well...we are officially in week five of Lent and fully in the dessert at this point. Who's feeling it?! It's no surprise we are back here talking about forgiveness again, and it's also no surprise that this week's verse beautifully lines up with today's gospel reading on the Prodigal Son. Hello Holy Spirit, we see you :)
In chapter 17 of Luke, Jesus explains to his apostles the necessity of forgiveness if they are to follow him. His message is one of great importance as Jesus knows the amount of pain and suffering that will come to them as followers of Christ. If their hearts become hardened by bitterness, the gospel message is threatened.
I know what you are thinking..."Man, I am not good at forgiving others who have hurt me. That feels like I am giving them permission to continue the hurt or condoning their actions." But THIS is the lie, my friends. Neither is true. Forgiveness keeps our heart soft and creates a sacred space for God to reside within us. Without it, bitterness suffocates His love AND the grace He offers us as the remedy.
The good news is that forgiving as many as seventy times seven times appeared difficult to those closest to Jesus when he walked the earth. We are not alone in this. It's evident by the request made from the apostles, "increase our faith", that they felt ill-equipped to both forgive AND overcome temptation. Whew, let's be honest, it sounds like an impossible feat.
In my life, God has called me off the shore...out of my comfort zone...and into deeper waters where my faith is the only that can stand. It's then that I gained the confidence in the Lord's promises to never leave me and to provide the grace needed to rely fully on him. The deep waters can be a scary place if we choose to look at them from the shore with only our abilities as the flotation device. However, when we use our "small mustard seed faith" to guide us to Jesus, we begin to see the waters as an invitation to a deeper faith where Jesus is standing on a sandbar. We never know the gift that He has for us unless we are willing to embrace the unknown.
Let's not grow weary at this message as it is one filled with great hope and promise. Jesus says all you need is "faith as a grain of mustard seed, and if He says it, then it must be true. Afterall, He is the one who spoke each of us into existence. Let us trust in His promises, practice forgiveness, and know that He can lead us out of the temptations of this world.
"Faith lifts the soul, Hope supports it. Experience says it must. And Love says let it be!" - St. Elizabeth Seton
The sycamine tree is known to have deep roots...Because its roots went down so deep into the earth, it was very difficult to kill. Just like the unforgiveness and resentment that can grow in our hearts, the sycamine tree roots must be cleared, or they will keep springing up again and again. Bitterness produces a bitter fruit, my friends. Let us choose to flavor our lives with Love! (source)
Action: We are pursuing the virtue of FAITH this week.
-Pray the Serenity Prayer often.
-Recite, "I can't, God can, I'll Him" as your repetitive prayer this week.
-Follow the path to forgiveness. Start with yourself.
Turn your will over to God knowing you can't do it without Him.
Take inventory of your wrongdoings. Go to confession.
Admit where you were wrong. Ask for forgiveness. Repeat daily.
Continue to turn to God in prayer for the grace necessary to see your own faults first.
Reflect & Pray with the Song of the week
You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your Name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise My soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine
You can find a new verse, virtue, song, and purposed steps every week in our devotional, Pursuing Peace. Check it out and enhance your relationship with Jesus today.