Flik is an inventor – an individualist – who tries to do things on his own. As A Bug’s Life begins, he gets the rest of the ant population in serious trouble with the grasshopper leader, Hopper, by accidentally destroying the homage they are expected to provide. But before he finds himself ostracized on the outside of the ant hill, he inspires a young queen-to-be, Dot, with a story about how seeds can make a difference. He tells her to believe that a seed (actually, a rock by way of visual example) can make a difference.
In Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus tells the story of a man who plants the smallest of seeds, a mustard seed, that grows into a tree that provides shelter to birds, well outperforming its expectation to be a shrub! Jesus says that this is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Later, in Matthew 17:20, he will challenge his disciples’ understanding of faith by telling them that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, that they could move mountains! Clearly, there is something to be said for having “big” faith, but Jesus implies that having just a little faith can be used by God to do great things.
Back in the land of A Bug’s Life, Flik finds himself up against it – the destruction of his ant community. Feeling desolate and responsible, he’s given up, until Dot returns with a rock and asks him to pretend its a seed. Somehow, the ‘seed’ planted at the beginning of the movie grows in Dot, and provides him a reminder of his inventive nature, of his can-do attitude, of his willingness to see what others can’t.
In fact, Dot has reminded Flik of his faith.
As I considered “mustard seed faith,” I found myself driving by a place I hadn’t been in years. In little Middletown, Rhode Island, stands a church that launched an overnight shelter for abused women and their children. Their ministry – Lucy’s Hearth – was created because they saw a mountain of suffering in the lives of these women and their children, back in 1984. Operating then out of the church property, they reached a few women and children at a time; nearly twenty-five years later, they are now situated on a 2.2 acre property and serve up to 50 women and nearly a hundred children a year. Their mustard seed planted has grown to impact many who find shelter there!
Lucy’s Hearth is also more personal to me, because as a sophomore, junior, and senior in college, I interned at Lucy’s Hearth in the summertime. I distinctly remember being asked by one boy if I was so-and-so’s daddy to my great surprise! Given the responsibility to plan and orchestrate the summer program, I took kids to the beach, out for ice cream, and to various activities around the state; we listened to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” over, and over, and over again.
But this is where my understanding of faith – the mustard seeds that my parents planted, that my church planted, that Lucy’s Hearth planted – found practical, incarnational growth. In some ways, this might be where the roots of my current ministry began to grow.
All because someone saw a mountain, and began to move it with their mustard seed faith. Because those mustard seeds versus mountains dynamics tend to change when they’re impacted by people called to move, people inspired by someone’s story, or belief, or action. Like Flik inspired Dot who inspired Flik. And it leaves me wondering:
“What mountain do you see that needs moved today? How will you move it?”