As long as I can remember, I’ve loved Jesus. That’s not to say I didn’t set him aside as a young woman when the rest of life seemed more exciting than he did. But something happened when I began having children. The responsibility of caring for another person overwhelmed me, and I felt ill equipped for the task. That’s when I turned back toward Jesus, in need of his help.
It was the beginning of a rich relationship full of wisdom (all his) and joy (all mine). I often felt then (and feel now) unworthy of his attention and will never understand what motivates him to accept me, failures and all, but he does.
As a child I was told Bible stories and coaxed to memorize Scripture. Mom sometimes even paid us to do so. She knew no amount of money would equal the priceless value of “owning” God’s Word. Both Dad and Mom regularly planted seeds of faith in their children and were also careful to tend them.
Even so, I remember coming to a place of doubting Jesus, then being rescued by a necklace Mom had given me. It was a pendant sphere of clear Lucite with a single seed enclosed in the middle. Supposedly it could grow a mustard tree. Mom had given it to me while referencing the story Jesus told about the problem of a small faith and the solution of a big God. We needn’t have a large supply of faith in order to be part of his family or included in his kingdom. He’s the one who did the big job of securing our salvation. We’re the saved; he’s the Savior. My childhood necklace reminded me that small was good enough.
Since then I’ve learned that although my necklace does hold a real mustard seed, there’s no such thing as a mustard tree, only mustard plants. And of course there are many seeds smaller than the mustard seed, such as carrot, strawberry or poppy seeds. Jesus was simply making a point to his listeners using visuals with which they were familiar. He used the mustard seed, because mustard grew everywhere and was prolific. If someone planted one mustard seed, they knew they would soon have millions.
As a child I loved my mustard seed necklace. It felt like I was wearing a little bit of the Bible around my neck, and I knew the Bible was important. Although that piece of jewelry is over 50 years old, it still hangs with my other necklaces, and it’s still a reminder of biblical truth. I’m thankful that when Jesus-seeds are planted in the life of a child, a tiny faith can grow into a sizeable one the same way one mustard seed can grow to fill many meadows.
”Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.’ “ (Luke 13:18-19)