Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference. – Max Lucado
How often have you heard someone say to a friend or acquaintance, ‘Go jump’. Sometimes it’s not abbreviated, as in, ‘Go jump in the lake!’ You may even have other versions in your repertoire!
I’ve heard a few sayings on the radio and wondered, Do these people know the origins of the words they’re using? I’m referring to a particular kind of saying, one that comes from the Bible. The way they use it makes it clear that they have no idea of its context or its real meaning. I know language changes over time, and after centuries, words can become a shadow of their former selves. Some now have a completely different significance. Others have even turned around again and ended up back with their original meaning! But a few still mean the same, but are used out of context.
How would we react to someone who spat out these words: ‘Take a long walk on a short pier’? They’re probably telling us to ‘get lost!’ Do they realise that it was Jesus who originally used the words: ‘Jump in the lake’? Of course, he never told anyone to get lost; his purpose was always to find the lost. But when he dealt with an unfruitful fig tree, and saw it shrivel and die, he had a lesson for his friends who witnessed this amazing thing. He told them to face their own situations in the same way. He only spoke to the fig tree and the tree died. And he told the disciples that a mountain was no different. He said to tell it where to go! He wasn’t implying that they could make a hill move by magic. He was saying they could deal with it by commanding it to make itself move. ‘Go jump in the lake’.
We might think we can deal with big issues in our lives by telling them that we have the authority to move them. But Jesus actually said we can tell them to do the moving. There’s a subtle difference. If we have a large problem that’s making our life hard, messy or painful, we have a few choices: go around it, stay where we are, pretend it’s not there, or move it. That’s hard work. It’s more satisfying to tell it to do the moving! And much easier. But first, we need God!
I’ve read about people who, in faith, have moved literal mountains, but there has to be a good reason for such large-scale landscaping measures! On the other hand, we all have mountains in our lives that need to get lost. They won’t hang around if we make their presence unnecessary. Like the fig tree that Jesus spoke to, they are not doing us any good. They have no purpose. They might seem good-looking, nice, and be a comfortable, familiar part of our life, but if they don’t benefit us at all, their ‘beauty’ is false and needs to be challenged. Let’s take a look at them and decide if we want to own them forever. Don’t think you can get rid of them on your own either; shovelling dirt is back-breaking labour. No, we must do what Jesus did; speak, and leave it to God.
As he said to his disciples, If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer ~ Matthew 21: 22.