A lot of useful wild plants (aka: weeds) sprout up in overgrown pastures, like relaxing Chamomile, aromatic roses, garlic and onion blackberries and, of course, the mustard plant. It looks more like a bush when fully grown. I’ve seen small birds seek rest upon its branches. When the pods get fully plump and then dried, they release hundreds of flavorful seeds. The seeds that make it to safety and are able to winter over form new plants in spring.
Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible.”
We cannot hope to replicate the miracles of nature, but as Jesus pointed out, we can learn from them. Faith as little as a mustard seed. What it lacks in size it makes up for in flavor and, when fully grown, in size!
Major Mike and I arrived in our new appointment last year with our eyes wide open. It was a little corps with only three people attending, and they weren’t all regulars. Those attending our installation that first Sunday consisted only of our out-of-town family and officers from divisional headquarters and their family.
I looked at my partner in ministry the next day and at the dreary, outdated chapel and declared that next Sunday we were taking God’s message outside.
That’s what we did for the rest of the summer. We held our “church” under an outdoor pavilion for the rest of the summer, expanding on Vacation Bible School material to offer devotions along with activities, snacks, crafts, and puppet shows. God was blessed when attendance reached 26 individuals, and when 62 people took part in our end-of-summer Corps Carnival. They all had the opportunity to hear God’s Word and His promises. They got to know God loves them.
The corps has an average attendance of 14 individuals each Sunday and we have added youth, men’s, and women’s ministries. Our common theme is prayer, coupled with faith that God will call His people to Him.
We have all heard the story of the loaves and fishes. I wish we had the problem of keeping the crowds away like Jesus did when they thronged to listen to Him, as described in the Gospel of Matthew (14:13-21). It was getting late and Jesus’ disciples wanted Jesus to send them away to eat. Can you imagine the potential lynching at our corps if we stopped offering coffee for Sunday school or the occasional potluck? Oh my! When Jesus told His guys to give them something to eat, they told Him that all they had were “five loaves of bread and two fish.”
What did Jesus do? He prayed. Jesus gave thanks for what God had so graciously provided. Then He broke up the small provisions and gave them to the disciples. The disciples in turn broke the bread and fish up and distributed it to the people. That little mustard–seed–like portion fed about 5,000 men, plus the women and children! Talk about Jesus having faith in His Father. I dare say He fully expected the need would be met!
We recently had a mustard seed potluck experience. It was a combined service with another corps. We had ordered fried chicken ahead of time, enough to feed about 35 people. A soldier putting the meal together pulled me aside to see if we had ordered the chicken. She was concerned that we wouldn’t have enough to go around. The partner corps got more people to show up than expected. They had at least 50 with our 10. We had on hand one large pan of broccoli and lots of cakes and some scalloped potato dishes. “No problem, God will provide,” I told her. I prayed.
After I picked up the chicken, my husband asked, “Are you sure they gave you the right order? There are 50 extra pieces of chicken here.” He checked the receipt with the soldier, who had given me some cash to get potato salad.
I said, “It’s a God thing,” I said. “He just multiplied the chicken order for us.” There was one piece left at the end of the feast.
When I became an officer, the Scripture as my life verse was Matthew 6:25-27: “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?… Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” The passage goes on to say, “Why do you have so little faith?… Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (v.30,33-34).
Do we have the faith of a mustard seed? That seed grows into a bush to shelter birds and provide food. We have little because we ask little. We need mustard seed faith to bloom into a bush right where God has planted us. It is not simply about extra chicken at a potluck, but significant signs of growth such as attendance at a small corps increasing from five to an average of 14 participants. Aren’t such reminders revealing that mustard seed faith has more credibility than we know?
Do we have faith that God will bless our Army so that we will see a spiritual revival and witness Him gathering His lost and hopeless people back to Him again? Can this expression of the universal Christian church grow into an enveloping and life-giving bush that produces seed that will disperse, take root and expand into a mighty force living out God’s promises?
Jesus had the unshakable faith that His Father would provide and bless the need. We prayed with faith that God would provide the blessing. We passed out the fried chicken, enough to fill everyone.
— Major Kathy Wolfe is a corps officer for the Army’s Anderson, IN Corps.