I’ve been wrestling with the story of Noah lately. Most of us, whether Jesus-follower or not, have heard the main details of this story:
God told Noah to build an ark.
He put lots of animals aboard.
It rained…like forever.
He got stuck on a mountain.
God invented the rainbow.
Or something like that…
LESSON TWO: Gopher Wood
In the last lesson, Noah stretched me to wait. He taught me that my seemingly insignificant daily activities are highly effective. Today, Noah is teaching me another hard lesson. It is not only possible that God could ask me to spend a lifetime doing un-noteworthy things before I uncover any purpose in them, but He could also ask me to do the unthinkable…the crazy…the kind of stuff that makes your friends and family send you away…the kind of stuff that leads the doctor to prescribe you heavy sedatives. God could ask me to use gopher wood.
“Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.” (Genesis 6:14-15.)
Do you even know what gopher wood is?
Before you try to answer, just trust me, you don’t know what it is. No one knows what gopher wood is. The word used in Hebrew for ‘gofer‘ only appears once in the Bible. So scholars have nothing else to compare it with–no way to define it. And apparently they can’t decide how to spell it. So, before you place a bid on a pallet of gopher wood for your next IKEA hack, buyer beware: you’re getting schooled.
As I did my own search on gopher wood, it dawned on me. We don’t know if it still exits or not, because we don’t know what it is! Perhaps gofer was only needed for this one moment in time…for this one boat in history…for this one man and his family…for this one amazing story of redemption.
Perhaps, God in his wisdom, guided the nomadic Noah to a forest of extremely purposeful trees. These trees must have been extremely strong, yet easy to fell. They had to have been tall, yet light. The dimensions given in the Genesis passage above are impressive. Imagine a man crafting a wooden boat 1 1/2 football fields long and 5 stories tall without modern equipment. It is possible, these trees were specially designed for an enormously large entirely handmade floating ship meant for a heavy and rambunctious load.
I wonder if Noah, in the first 500 years of his life, found these trees annoying and useless. Or, maybe he used them every day in his fires, thinking them to be of no higher purpose than other trees around him. Before God defined their purpose, I wonder if he ever had need of them?
I believe God has put us in our own jungles of gofer.
We’ve been placed in circumstances, among specially designed surroundings to eventually use them for acts of redemption. Whatever our situations: sitting at a desk, traveling the world, or changing diapers, I guarantee that we’ve all felt surrounded by ominous looking obstacles that tower over us. Through our everyday lenses, these things can trigger fear and doubt, or at the very least, confusion.
Why, God, did you put me here? Why, God, did you surround me with such useless situations, people, or things? Why have I been cursed with anxiety? Why does my spouse struggle with addiction? Why this? Why that?
Perhaps our gopher wood is something we use or do everyday to meet everyday needs. We simply just use it/do it, day in and day out, unaware that one day it will be a crucial piece of our story of healing.
God asks all of us to use our raw material for His greater plan.
What if we sit among a forest of great resources…intended for the grandest of adventures… set apart for unique purpose…ordained for an amazing story of redemption?
Right now, God might be asking you to do the crazy and the unthinkable. If he is, know that He is a God of provision. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Perhaps you have placed among a towering forest of gopher wood.
Maybe the craziest thing He could ask of you is to reveal your sin to your spouse…and unseen to you is the Spirit’s preparation of your spouse’s heart to extend oceans of forgiveness. Redemption awaits.
Maybe He could be asking you to share with others your deepest fears…and in his urging to speak the most uncomfortable, you discover a courage deep within your soul that rests on the knowledge of Him. Freedom awaits.
Maybe He could be using your devastating circumstances for a later good…and He provides through His people care and support for the long road laid out before you. Healing awaits.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
I pray that our eyes are opened to see the raw materials within our circumstances and the people around us, those which we’ve most likely overlooked. Perhaps God has already given us all that we need, we only need His firm and clear direction to see it with new vision.
I pray that we open our ears to hear his voice, that we don’t dismiss what he’s spoken to our hearts as too crazy of an idea, too large of a task, or too risky of a venture.
I pray that we open our hearts to be willing to do crazy and scary things. I pray we learn to trust His plan, even when it sounds outlandish.
I pray that He use us and all our gopher wood to draw others to Him and offer His saving grace to the world.