When I was little, I was swimming in a creek at camp one summer, and I looked at the water as it flowed easily over the pebbles under the surface. I closed my eyes, and with all the faith I could muster, I stepped out on the water, believing with every fiber of my being that I would be able to walk across the surface. Instead of walking on water, I felt the pebbles at bottom of the creak. When my husband was a kid, he also attempted to walk on water, but with a different approach. He tried to run fast enough to achieve thrust before sinking. Instead of defying the laws of physics he found himself sitting at the bottom of the pool.

If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there.” And it will obey you. Matthew 17:20

If you grew up in the church like I did, at some point as a child, you might have been caught staring hard at a mountain or attempting to harness the super powers Jesus spoke of and literally toss fig trees into the sea or any one of the tasks Jesus promised You would be able to do if you only had a little faith. Kids tend to think in very literal terms, when I read this verse, I figured I had faith about the size of a walnut; certainly enough to toss mountains around. You will be surprised to know the mountain did not move, but I certainly have. As I grow and learn what it means to have faith, God has worked so many miracles in me.

So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches. Luke 13:19

To read this verse one might think a mustard tree should be a huge tree. But in reality it is more like a shrub, not the majestic tall trees you might think of. It generally grows to a height of 6-20 feet, but it grows out, as wide as it is tall. Why didn’t Jesus use the example of the the Oriental Beech? It grows in the same area and often boasts a stature up to 90 feet.

Faith has multiple aspects that are necessary for salvation. Faith sometimes refers to a belief or acceptance of something as being true. Faith is also a word that implies trust. This goes beyond simple belief and begins to affect my lifestyle. To me, it is the term that wraps up my relationship with almighty God into a single word. Faith has a lot of parts. We could spend weeks talking about faith. I had faith, that I could walk on water. When Jesus uses the illustration of the Mustard tree, I think he was referencing a specific attribute of faith: refuge.

Jesus said in the same verse, “The birds nest in its branches”. When a bird is fleeing predators, it is looking for a safe haven, somewhere it can build a nest, and not feel threatened. The mustard tree is thick with foliage, it’s not beautiful or majestic, but it is safe for all those who choose to make their home there.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2

I couldn’t call myself a homeschool mom if I didn’t tell you a little bit about the root system of the Mustard tree. It has a taproot, which drives down deep into the ground. It is a water seeking plant. In fact, you cannot plant a mustard tree close to cisterns or septic tanks because it will destroy underground water structures in its quest for water. Trials will come, put your roots down deep, when trials come you will draw from the stability faith provides, while also drinking deeply from the well of living water.

When we think of faith, probably many of us are drawn to the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews Chapter 11. The chapter lists, over and over again, the “celebrities of the Old Testament”. I am always struck by the faith they had in the promise of God. They looked for the promise, trusting that God was going to keep his word. Even though they never got to see it, they trusted that it was there. He was not ashamed to be called their God. (Hebrews 11:16) We look back at them, and think they were pillars of faith. I might use the description of the Oriental Beech, but they probably never thought of themselves as anyone great. They just quietly trusted God. Meanwhile, God is moving the Israelite nation into position to receive the law, and then to be given the promised land, and then prophecy about the Messiah that was to come, who eventually was able to bring salvation to you and I. They didn’t see the big picture, but their faith was a refuge, when they couldn’t understand what God had in store for them.

Over recent months, I became more and more aware of the need for a change. In my previous blog I had talked about trying to hold on to “too many frogs” and I knew that I had to take my own advice. My life course had changed over the previous year, and I was beginning to resent the weekly requirement. The transition to this blog, not only allows me to continue doing what I had enjoyed, but also to incorporate other people who like to write as well.I hope the rotation of different thoughts, experiences and viewpoints is an improvement on what I did for two years.

Then something happened

The exact week I was writing this post, a situation developed in my own life (again!), and not just a minor one. I cannot share details right now, but it feels like one chapter in my life has come to a close and the next one hasn’t opened yet, leaving me in limbo. The same is in our world right now. There is a lot of turmoil in our world on a global scale right now, and I know how I want things to turn out, but things aren’t happening on my schedule.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you probably feel a bit like Peter standing outside the boat. You are on the verge of the rest of your life, and you don’t trust that the water can hold your weight. You see the waves rising before you, and you don’t know if the day after tomorrow will be there. You might feel a lot like that sparrow seeking refuge from predators. You can be sure the thick brush of mustard tree faith will keep you safe. You don’t have to know the future; just trust the One who does.


  1. “You don’t have to know the future, Just trust the one who does.” That is something I have been learning better but I have a long way to go. Praying for you in whatever changes are going on in your life.

  2. Love your conclusion, Katie, we do know the Lord, so we don’t need to be afraid of what is to come. The Lord is watching over us just like the sparrow.

  3. Carolyn Green Sheridan

    Oh, Katie, I can relate to most of what you are saying in this piece. I have struggled with faith quite a bit of my life…and especially in the recent year or two. I realize now that I needed a change…though I do NOT like change most of the time. I do not have to know just what your situation/thing is you are talking about in your life. But I don’t have to…because I can pray and talk to the One who does and who can actually do something about it and in it and through it. I have a feeling we all could use a bit of prayer regarding our faith. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your heart and wisdom. It is very encouraging. YOU are very encouraging.

  4. I love what you pointed out, that our faith can be our refuge! So true and just what I needed to hear, thank you!

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