I enjoy sailing around volcanoes, and whenever I have
the opportunity, I climb them. Just north of Sicily is an island called
Volcano Island and (as you might guess) there is a large volcano in the
middle of it. It only takes a couple of hours to hike to the top and itís
an easy climb unless itís raining. Friends from another yacht were on the
summit during a thunderstorm. The combination of thunder, lightning,
flash flooding, and slurries of mud rushing down the slopes made their climb
into an unforgettable adventure. They reached the base of the volcano after
sinking up to their calves in thick red mud.
Fortunately my climb to the top was less arduous, but
it was still an excellent adventure. The magnificent view from the top
made the climb worthwhile. The active volcanic island of Stromboli could be
seen in the distance as a faint outline emerging from the Mediterranean
haze. Unlike Stromboli, my volcano was dormant. There was no molten lava
in the caldera and no active lava flows to threaten adventurers on its
slopes. Just because there was no hot lava to singe my toes didnít mean I
could treat this volcano without respect. Clouds of sulfurous gas and
steam billowed from the summit, and even a small whiff of the noxious fumes
quickly took my breath away. More than once I had to hold my breath to pass
through the toxic clouds of gas.
The highest volcano I've ever climbed is in New
Zealand. Even though it was summer, there was still ice and snow on its
summit. That volcano was so high I could see both coasts of New Zealand.
The Pacific Ocean stretched endlessly to east and the Tasman Sea glittered
in the west. I could literally see from sea to shining sea.
Each time I climb a volcano, I'm reminded how Jesus
said if I have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, I would be able to
move mountains. This statement confused me for many years. I had so many
mountains of adversity in my life, but none of them seemed to be moving. I
tried to muster my faith as best I could, but my mountains stayed right
where they were.
There was a fatal flaw in my understanding of the
nature of faith. I was looking for magic. I wanted to name it and claim
it. I secretly hoped faith would temporarily suspend the laws of the
physical universe at my whim, enabling me to rearrange the real estate on
planet earth Ė in other words, move mountains. I had a poor understanding
of why God put the capacity for faith in my heart and mind. I totally
missed the point.
Fortunately this story has a happy ending. I discovered that faith has
nothing at all to do with magic or altering the laws of the physical
universe to make miraculous things happen. Instead, faith has everything to
do with vision Ė a vision of what is possible with the help of God. God
gave me faith to see things other people cannot see. Faith lets me see
through clouds of chaos and confusion. It allows me to look into the future
and see what is possible.
Now when I ask God to help me to move a mountain, I
know exactly whatís going to happen. Heís going to give me a shovel and
tell me to start digging. And before I know it, the mountain will
Jesus was right. If I have faith the size of a grain
of mustard seed, I can move mountains. One shovel-full at a time.
Do you hear that sound? Thatís me and my shovel at
work. I am moving another mountain. In about a week I am pulling up my
anchor to sail three thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean. I know I can
do it one shovel-full at a time.