Confession . . . I’ve always had heartburn over Jesus’ promise in Mark 11:23 that I can instruct a mountain to “be taken up and thrown into the sea,” and if I believe and “[do] not doubt in [my] heart,” “it will come to pass.”
Do people with super-strong faith have that kind of power over God? Can they decide where a mountain should go, and God will move it for them? Does anyone I know have that much faith?
Or worse . . . if the mountain doesn’t move, does that mean they’re short on faith? Doesn’t that put the duty to deliver on a person’s performance instead of on God?
But I finally figured it out. I’ve been asking the wrong questions. I should have been asking . . . What is the mountain? Check this out from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Mark . . .
“[The] miracles which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains . . . It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true Christians are endued with, which doeth wonders in things spiritual. It justifies us (Romans 5:1), and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us, (Micah 7:19). It purifies the heart (Acts. 15:9), and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains before the grace of God.”
So, the mountains are spiritual mountains . . . things like jealousy, envy, unforgiveness, fear, gossip, judgment, unkindness, callousness, pride, and selfishness. If we’re not careful, these mountains can own us. We can’t get over or around them. We keep holding grudges, drinking the poison ourselves, and wishing bad on those we think have offended us.
Often, the mountain is something we screwed up. Something God’s already forgiven, but for whatever reason, we just can’t forgive ourselves and let Him take away our guilt. And sometimes, we struggle to forgive God Himself, for something He did or didn’t do. It’s hard to submit our will to His . . . to say, “Okay, I know You love me, I know You’re God, and I’m not, so I’m giving You my ‘anger mountain’ and asking You to throw it into the sea, where it needs to stay and never be dredged up.”
But Jesus’ teaching is clear. If we lean in, ask God to move our spiritual mountain and throw it into the sea, He’ll do it. We must simply take Him at His word, turn the page, and believe that when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Should we retrieve it from the sea, ask Him to throw it in again. Eventually, by building our faith and removing the doubt from our heart, we’ll leave that mountain under the sea once and for all, allowing us to move on in the freedom God’s grace intended us to have.
Scripture: Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. (Mark 11:23)