A couple of times in the book of Matthew, Jesus used a mountain as an illustration for his disciples’ faith. In chapter 17:20, he says that with a small dose of faith, you can instruct a mountain to move from one place to another. Later in chapter 21:21, he makes a similar reference to telling a mountain to throw itself into the ocean. Whenever I’ve heard sermons on these verses, the gist is always about trusting the Lord and putting our faith in him.
That’s all well and good, but now that I am surrounded by mountains everywhere I turn, I have a greater appreciation for just how much effort it would take to relocate one of those enormous piles of rock. I realized that mountains can be moved by one of three ways: explosion, erosion, and effort.
Driving through a mountain is a beautiful experience, but sometimes I wonder how much TNT went into blowing a hole into the mountain in order to build a road. When God does a mountain-moving work in our lives, it can feel chaotic and uncomfortable. Sometimes, it seems downright explosive, as we are compelled to make serious and swift changes to correct sin in our lives.
On other occasions, God’s handiwork is slow and deliberate, like the way wind and water carve their way through rock formations. Similarly, our old self erodes away as we grow closer to Christ. I think this might be what Paul meant in Philippians 2:12-13 when he talked about “working out” our salvation. Our decision to follow Jesus is a one-time deal, but becoming more and more like him takes the rest of our lives.
Lastly, it seems like sometimes when we ask God to move mountains in our lives, he hands us a pickaxe and says to get to work! Moving mountains can require a lot of effort on our part. Yes, God is almighty, and yes, he could make the mountain move effortlessly, but the learning experience and character building is for our benefit when we get our hands dirty with work.