Post series: NOAH…LESSON ONE: Invisible isn’t ineffective

I’ve been reading through the life of Noah repeatedly over the past week or so.  As I’ve been reviewing the account found in Genesis 6-9, the finer details are unsettling to me.  They’ve been messing with me.  There are so many lessons in the life of this one man.  Honestly, it makes me a little frustrated with him.  Noah’s rocking my world.

I thought I’d share some of these lessons with you in today’s post.  But as I began to type, I uncovered more and more golden bits hidden in these 3 chapters.  So it looks like I’m writing a multiple post series on the man, Noah.  Through this one story, my heart is not only being convicted, but also being led to a new richness found in God’s character.

Most of us, whether Jesus-follower or not, have heard the main details of this story:

God told Noah to build an ark.

He obeyed.

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 ONE: Invisible isn’t ineffective.

Genesis 5:28-6:9

First of all, let’s just look at how old this guy was when he fathered his first child:

“After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Gen. 5:32).

500 YEARS!

I realize that the human lifespan was dramatically longer back then, but that is a ridiculously long time in the world of family planning.  This is the first we hear of Noah, except that his father was comparatively a spring chicken at 182 years old when he was born.  Therefore, we can only assume that those first 500 years of Noah’s life were not noteworthy.

This is where Noah begins to rock my boat.  I can hardly last 20 minutes feeling I’ve no purpose or significance.  If I’m “wasting” time, not getting something done, or not working towards a goal of some sort, I feel lost.  I feel slothful.  I feel irresponsible.  I feel without purpose.  I feel invisible.

Noah was invisible for 500 years.

Sometime during Noah’s invisible life, the world went crazy…like Spring-Break-Nephilim-(giants)-Gone-Wild type of crazy.

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

Yet, in the midst of that, Noah remained righteous and faithful.  Genesis 6:9 says,

“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

While he didn’t do anything noteworthy, he remained faithful in very difficult circumstances…blameless.

Noah’s blameless invisibility had great purpose.

God doesn’t keep Noah out of the pages of Scripture forever.

God is so disappointed in the evil ways of the people, that He’s willing to blot out mankind and hit the restart button.  But, Noah, through his blamelessness finds favor with God.  He has remained invisible, yet faithful.  God shows his compassion to the world through Noah.  This is a foreshadowing of Jesus, who saves mankind from sin and death because of His righteousness.  Jesus, the only man to walk the earth and be completely blameless, saved the human race from annihilation by dying on the cross in our stead.

Noah’s invisible years spent in faithfulness effectively preach the Gospel.

Noah needs to sit down. He’s rocking my canoe while I’m at the bow trying to navigate my dreams and desires with a splintered paddle.  I don’t want to be invisible.  I am daily flapping my arms in all directions to gain some momentum, or at the very least, just make a splash.  Whether I’m organizing a closet or serving on a grander scale, the evil motivations of my heart creep in.  I want to be seen.  I want to be appreciated.  I want to have importance and purpose far greater than my current standing or situation.

And if I have to be invisible, do I really have to remain faithful?  That’s no fun.  That’s too hard.  That’s not fair.

Others around me are “sleeping” with social media giants, propelling their platforms and selling their message to the highest bidders, regardless of motive or heart.  It’s very tempting to abandon faithfulness to God’s timing, and turn allegiance to the world’s fast-paced self-promotion.

I firmly believe that God works through His people, building networks of varying talents, to accomplish His work.  I undoubtedly believe that He uses social media to do this. However, I also believe there is a fine line between God-orchestrated opportunities, and man-orchestrated promotion.  Simply remaining faithful, at the risk of being invisible for a really long time, is a challenge.  Noah forces me to ask myself the question:

“Could the Gospel be demonstrated more effectively through my invisible faithfulness, than through a visible stage or amplified microphone? 

Now I get that platforms and promotions don’t apply to everyone.  That’s just my jacked up reality right now.  But invisibility and purpose applies to us all.

Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom who feels hidden under 500 years worth of laundry and dishes.  You are struggling with thoughts of value and purpose.  You are sacrificing big dreams for seemingly little insignificant daily chores.  Could the Gospel be demonstrated effectively through your invisible faithfulness?

Let me encourage you, sister:  Your invisibility is not ineffective.  He is working His message of sacrifice through your daily grind.  That purpose far outweighs current standing or situation.  That is a holy calling.  Remain faithful.

Maybe you are a hard worker climbing the ladder of success.  You’re daily laboring to be noticed and appreciated by producing the next big idea, close the next big deal, or impress the big-time boss.  Perhaps you come home at the end of a long day and wonder, “What did I just do for the past 8-10 hours?”  You are exhausted and feel like every day valuable time is lost with nothing gained.

Ponder on this:  How many fields did Noah likely plow in those 500 years?  500 seasons he had to sow, nurture, and harvest. 500 years worth of toiling and laboring he spent in the heat of the sun.  500 winters worth of wood he gathered.  Through it all, he simply remained faithful.  His faithfulness was more effective than yielding the greatest crop of 2348 BC.  Could the Gospel be demonstrated effectively through your invisible faithfulness?

My fellow tired friend, hear what Noah’s father said as he was naming his son:

“Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Genesis 5:29

Noah would do just that, but 500 years later.  Be faithful in your labor, and know that God will bring you relief…in His time.  Don’t give up on His trusted timing or on doing good.

Maybe you have retired after years of parenting or holding a career and you find yourself lost.  With more time and freedom than ever, you struggle to know if you are spending it wisely.  Perhaps without the children at home, to-do lists to complete, or business reports to write, you struggle to know who you are anymore.  The majority of your life has been devoted to a career or to raising children.  Now that those activities don’t fill your schedule, you find your identity, value, and worth being challenged.  Perhaps your health has begun to limit your physical abilities.  Could the Gospel be demonstrated effectively through your invisible faithfulness?

You, wise friend, have spent a lifetime being faithful with what God put before you.  While your daily work load has changed, Your call to remain faithful has not.  Be faithful with the people He has placed before you.  Be faithful with the message of His love and grace.  While you may feel invisible, you are not ineffective.

This past weekend, my husband shared a message based on the following verse.  (I think God wants us to hear it if He placed it on multiple hearts this week.)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

While Noah was invisible for 500 years, God was using his faithfulness to point to Jesus.  Don’t grow weary of doing good, my friend.  In the midst of tempting escapes and fast-tracks, let us be content to trust His timing and His plan.  Let us remember our greatest purpose in life is to make Him visible, not ourselves.  In due season, we will reap, if we do not give up.

Baby blue…like the Colorado skies…

So again, I’ve been feeling sad, a little blue, you might say.  I think it’s pretty simple—no need to over analyze.  I just miss my people and places.  I miss the Broken Spoke, my Buda HEB cashiers, the simplicity of THE one stoplight on Main Street, South Congress, Gordough’s Big Fat Doughnuts, House Pizza on Airport, Town Lake, and the list could go on.  Even sitting in this Katy Starbucks deceives me into believing I am sitting near IH-35 in the Buda Starbucks and life hasn’t changed.  When we lived in Austin, I used to get frustrated at the “Austin is the best place on earth” mentality.  It seemed so self-righteous.  But now I get it.  It really is the best city on earth. 🙂

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to go to Colorado as a family.  It was the first time to be on a plane for the kids (that they can remember) and it was the first time for us to travel that far with four kids.  In short, we all grew a little. 🙂

We had a moment in the car when one child did not want to go into the mountains.  Despite the prospect of snow, adventure and fun, the fear of the mountain was too much.  I don’t know if it was the foreknowledge of steep cliffs, avalanches or rock slides that was causing the trepidation, but whatever the source,  it was all too much.  In an effort to encourage, I tried to describe how fun the snow would be, how beautiful the trees would be, how amazing and worth it the drive up to the top would be.  None of it was convincing.  So, with tears rolling down the cheeks, we just forced all parties in the car up into the Rockies.

It ended up being worth it. (Go figure.) While this annual trip was not as restful as it has been in the past, we did have good fun family time together.  Here are a few pics of our adventures:

Manitou Cave Dwellings

Manitou Cave Dwellings

The boys and SNOW!

The boys and SNOW!

The Wolf Sanctuary

The Wolf Sanctuary

Feeding time for all.  Notice the wolf eyeing Judah for dessert.

Feeding time for all. Notice the wolf eyeing Judah for dessert.

Gold Mine Tour

Gold Mine Tour

 

We hunted for cave-dwelling Indians, gold, snow, and even wolves.  Well, they were easy to find because they were behind the fence and it was feeding time.  And everyone had no regrets about being in the heights of the mountain range.  Once the wonders of the mountain had been experienced, all fear and concern was gone.

In all the traveling and excitement, I rarely had to time to process anything.  This trip has become a mile-marker of sorts.  Every Cinco-de-Dyer (our friend, David Dyer’s, May 5th birthday) we trek to Colorado.  In the past the week of solitude and reflection has made every trip memorable and unique in that there has been a lot of introspective and identifying of the season we are in or the big lesson for that year.  It’s been a time to pause while on the outside of our normal life and take note of what God is doing.  We’ve been afforded the opportunity to take a “Colorado skies” panoramic of life and how the Spirit is guiding us.  (And if we’ve been following or not.)

This year, that didn’t happen.  At least not with the same intentionality.  But I remember that it was last year on this trip that as we drove down the mountain paths with huge vistas of blue sky and snow-capped mountains on either side, Family Rehab was born.  It was while in the beauty and splendor, without our kids, that a yearning to share it with them was born.  “It” was the beauty of the Lord—all that He has created and all that He has done.  His majesty spreads farther than the baby blue Colorado skies.  His splendor and power is also evident in our lives.  And by “our”, I mean everybody.  Whether a believer or not, God is working in your life.  Whether you confess God as your creator and Jesus as your Redeemer, or not…He’s at work in your life.  Whether we believe or not, I dare say we don’t notice or acknowledge the majority of His workings in every facet of our lives.  Whether we believe or not, He is pursuing all of us.  He pursues not to destroy and condemn, but to love and lavish forgiveness and mercy upon us.  Contemplating this, and knowing that He is pursuing me and loving me, no matter how small I am in comparison to Pike’s Peak, makes me feel amazing–so amazing that I want to make sure my children feel the depth and breadth of His love for them.  It was the desire to share with them the truth of how much they are loved and treasured that fueled Family Rehab.  And I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just telling them from a philosophical or religious mentality.  I wanted them to hear it from my heart, as someone who has experienced His love.  But let’s get real.  I don’t always feel it.  I don’t always believe that it’s there.  Like right now…I mean, if He loved me, He wouldn’t have called me out of Austin!

To a warm-weathered Texan, it doesn’t make much sense why anyone would live in sub-freezing temperatures and shovel snow.  In the same way, believing that 1) God exists; and 2) He knows me; and 3) that He pursues me with love doesn’t make sense to everyone either.  I don’t always see snow.  I am so far removed from it at times that I don’t remember exactly how it feels in my hands.  I can’t adequately describe in words the crunchy sound it makes under my feet.  But if I took you to the mountain, made you kneel beside me and make a snowman, you would know and understand the thrill and joy it brings because you experienced it.  I think this is the tricky thing for a believer.  I can tell you with all manner of words how knowing and trusting Jesus is better than life, but until you experience it for yourself, it just won’t compute.  And if I asked you to travel with 4 kids through an airport then drive in a tear-filled SUV up a mountain trail to experience it, you may not take the challenge, because without knowing the value of the view at top, the view of the journey holds no worth.

It takes risk to climb a mountain.  It takes faith to live on one.  It takes commitment to shovel through ice and snow winter after winter.  But if we go to the mountain together, we can remind each other of the scary cliffs and the exhilaration of making the journey past them.  If we go together, we can communicate with fewer words of convincing and more across-the-room glances of solidarity and connection.  Taking my kids to the mountain daily is a key part of Family Rehab.  It’s not about me simply sharing bible stories or rehearsing scripture memory verses.  I am inviting my children into my personal experience with Jesus.  When I struggle, they need to see it–because Jesus will show up.  When I am sad, they need to hear about it–because Jesus will say something.  When I am happy, they need to know the source of it–because Jesus will be pursuing them with storehouses full of it.  If I don’t help them experience Jesus, they might miss Him like so many others.  They might believe in Him, but they might miss experiencing Him and all His goodness.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!  (Psalm 34:8)

I want my kids to not only taste and see that snow is good.  I want them to taste and see with all their senses that Jesus is good.  I don’t just want them to push past their fears and see that snow and mountain-fresh air is worth it in the end.  I want them to push past insecurities and doubts and the fear of being fully known and see that freedom in Jesus is worth it.  In a world that sometimes portrays a Jesus who is disappointed in us and pities us, I want them to know from experience that “Jesus is always good news” as my husband puts it.  He loves us and wants good for us.  He pursues us with grace and mercy and open arms.  He wants us to be happy and full of joy, not guilt and shame.  Experiencing that freedom first hand is key.  To be loved for who you are right now, in all your failures and insecurities, knowing that right now, without changing a thing, you are worth dying for–that’s worth the pain of being honest about your imperfection.  That kind of love doesn’t exist in any other religion, with any other god, or in any human relationship.  We’d like to think that we can love unconditionally, but if we are honest, we really do expect quite a lot of good behavior from those that we love.  Jesus does what no one else can.  He loves me completely and freely…no strings attached.

Oh, kids…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, friends…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, believers…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, Angie…taste and see that the Lord is good!  (even when I’m homesick)  I need to listen to my own rant here.  In my sadness over seeing and tasting familiar Austin things no more, I need to remember that Jesus looks better and tastes better.  What He has for me here makes everything else pale in comparison.  It may take awhile to see it, to experience it here, but He is at work and He is lavishing grace and mercy on me every moment.  I need to heed my own advice.  I need to push past the tendency to withdrawal in the safety of my house.  I need to gather around me the people He has given me in this place for a journey up the mountain so we can experience His wonders together and remind each other that, yes–He is here, He is good.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. 🙂