If you have not yet heard of the movie Little Boy, you may want to find it and plan a movie night.  It is a fantastic and unique film about a young son named Pepper who was willing to do anything possible to bring his father, who was drafted into the military for World War II, home.  It’s charming, nostalgic, and it deals with societal difficulties that were alive during that time.

One thing that plays heavily into the plot is Pepper’s small stature, even for an eight year-old.  he was tormented for his size and he believed that he was incapable of doing much to change his circumstances until he began to associate with a magician, whose persona also played the role of a crime-fighter, who came to town and performed a show. 

This was a significant moment for the boy as his father had shared comics of the magician’s exploits throughout his childhood.  Now, the showman held a special place in Pepper’s heart as a point of connection with his father who was now away.  At the show, the magician chose Pepper to volunteer in a magic trick where he would move a wine bottle across a table using only his mind.  Once the trick had been successfully completed, Pepper believed himself to have special powers and began to work out a plan to end the war and bring his father home. 

In his mind, he remembered the story from church where he was told that, “if you have faith [even as small as] a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20) and believed it to be a sign.  Incredible power can come from a small thing like a mustard seed or a small boy.  Things that once seemed impossible are no longer impossible for those who held this power.

But a priest confronted the idea.  As he told the child that he did not understand the point of the message, another priest patiently sat the boy down and asked him to move a bottle on his desk to prove his power.  The boy tried, painstakingly, to repeat the trick but found that the bottle wouldn’t move.  The priest told him to try again without results.  He was told to try once more, and again, the bottle remained in its place. 

(c) 2015 Open Road Films

One final time, the boy was asked and as he screamed in that office, trying with all his mind to force the bottle to move, the priest grabbed the bottle and slammed it down on the other side of the desk.  He yelled, “there! It moved.”  The boy replied, “No, you moved it.”  The priest’s response came with authority, “Yes, because you moved me to move it…  See, I moved it because you wanted the bottle to move so much – and that, you can say, is how faith works.  At least some of the time.”

Isn’t that beautiful?  The priest saw the boy struggle and out of compassion, he moved the bottle for the boy.  It’s not in the priest’s character to refuse to answer the boy’s need.  And what is the context of Matthew 17, from which the mustard seed teaching was given?

There was a boy who was being harmed by a demon by causing seizures, forcing falls into fire to burn him, and falls into water to drown him.  The boy’s father brought his son to Jesus and asked for miraculous healing and that is exactly what Jesus provided.  Why?  Because it isn’t in His character to refuse to answer requests like the one before Him. 

Even minuscule amounts of faith in the power and goodness of God can move Him to move mountains.  When the disciples wondered why their efforts to heal the boy weren’t bringing results, Jesus informed them that they were trusting in their own efforts.  But if they had faith in God to do the impossible, then God may very well answer.  Just as the priest watched the boy straining for something magical to happen to that bottle and so he moved it for him, God hears our cries and pain.  He watches us strain against the sin and brokenness of the world.  Rather than working miracles in our own power, God is the One who answers prayers, when they are aligned with His will, and His power is what is displayed in those moments.

Do we wish to see powerful moments of God’s provision around us?  Do we have faith that He can work all things for good to those who love Him?  Do we trust that He has, can, and will answer many prayers of ours to show His love for His people?  We are dependent on Him and when we lean into the One who is moved by our struggles to move mountains, we have found ourselves at home in relationship to the all-powerful God of the universe.

Love you all,

Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff

The Faith of Children, Magic, and Mustard

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