Jesus told his disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 (NIV). When we are confronted by a mountain we should ask, “Why is it there before exercising our faith to remove the mountain.”
We are conditioned to think of mountains in this context as obstacles that stand in our way or in the way of progress. Recently I was preparing to preach and part of my text included Zechariah 4:7: “Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him!” Suddenly, it occurred to me that perhaps not every mountain is an obstacle in that we should seek God’s guidance regarding its removal. Sometimes a mountain can represent protection and its removal could leave us vulnerable.
In Psalms, we read: “Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever.” Psalm 125:2 (NLT). The mountains that surround the city of Jerusalem provide protection from enemies. In the same way, we must discern the true purpose of the mountains that are before us. We may think that we want to go in a particular direction or even that the view would be better if that mountain was not in our way and it may very well be so, but until we understand God’s plans and purposes, seeing a mountain removed might prove hazardous to us.
We often hear about open and closed doors, but do we think about mountains standing in our way in the same light? The mountain in our way could mean that God is not ready for us to move in a particular direction or that he is protecting us from some unseen peril. Perhaps God is preparing us for a greater task and he does not want us to be distracted by what is on the other side of the mountain. There is something exhilarating about the thought of exercising faith to move mountains, but allowing them to remain requires patience.
There is a precedent that says that God will not remove obstacles from our way until we are ready to possess what lies beyond. “The LORD your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little. You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you.” Deuteronomy 7:22 (NLT) God wants to prepare us to go in and take full possession of what our faith allows and until we are ready, the obstacles will remain.
Having faith that moves mountain is exciting, but having faith that God will reveal to us the correct time to remove obstacles will produce the results in our life that will give him glory and honor. We must also remember that not every mountain is an obstacle to be removed, but may be a blessing from the Lord to protect us or prepare us for what he has in store.