Let Go, Let God: Giving Up Self for Faith

Jesus says our faith is like a mustard seed – given the right conditions, it can grow so large that it uproots trees and moves mountains.

by Seth Botts
Fitness has been a lifelong struggle for me. My whole life I have wanted to be a fit person. Not only have I wished that I would value my health more, I have honestly vainly wanted to look a certain way. The problem is, I have never really been willing to take the action to achieve those goals.

Before the pandemic I had made the decision to be more intentional with the way that I ate and had even started consistently using a gym membership for the first time in my life. When the pandemic led to my gym shutting down, I decided to take a “no excuses” approach and took up running. Although I couldn’t initially run a mile without stopping for a breather, I made a commitment to myself to stick to it. I talked to friends who I knew were runners (and actually listened to their advice). I dedicated myself to running at least a mile every day for a year; a task that didn’t come easy with the rough winter of 2020-2021. I even followed a training plan and eventually was able to run two marathons and two ultra marathons.

What does growing through faith look like?

Clearly my growth wasn’t linear, and there were countless days that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore – but I persisted. I had faith that if I showed up for myself, I could achieve my goals and ambitions. But let me tell you, when I couldn’t even finish a mile without walking, that faith was shaky at best. I had seen others do it, and I was determined to do something that I had previously thought was impossible, even if it seemed pretty impractical at the time.

One of my favorite things about the Bible is that it is so darn relevant to almost any situation in my life. Jesus talks about the faith of a mustard seed five different times in the Bible (Matthew 13:31-32, Mathew 17:20, mark 4:30-32, Luke 17:5-6 and Luke 13-18-19). In these passages he refers to faith that starts out as the tiniest of seeds, but given the right conditions our faith can grow to a point where it uproots mulberry trees and moves mountains. For me it is so easy to stop there and wait around for God to do all the work.

Expanding the answer -- we have to act on the solution

Here is the thing about faith: faith alone is often horribly insufficient. In James 2:14-26 Jesus’s brother James expands on the thought of faith alone with his famous statement “Faith without works is dead.” James tells us that faith is “made complete with faithful actions.” I can sit around and pray and believe that I have a future as the world's premier fitness guru, but until I show up for myself, I will only continue to regress on my fitness journey. God is the architect of my life, but I have to be the builder and put in the work. My 33 years of failed attempts at fitness is evidence of this. If I am not willing to put in the work, God’s best laid plans go to waste.

Sadly, there are a lot of things that I can have faith in that I am just not ready or willing to take action on. Until then, I will take them to God in prayer. “God grant me the willingness to…” has been a frequent first step of action. Asking for the willingness relieves my burden of negative self-talk and doubt, and invites God to work in and through me to fully achieve the vision for growth that God has for me.

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