I am so thrilled to be ending this series on Noah.  I know I shouldn’t say that, because it was my own decision to start this, but seriously, I am so glad to not read about Noah anymore.  It’s been tough and challenging for my  soul.  I have resisted learning from it and applying it to my everyday waiting.  Finally, today I get to read about Noah getting off the boat!  Yay! No more waiting!  Surely, there won’t be a hard lesson with this one, right? 😉


Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.  Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”  So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.  Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease”  (Genesis 8:15-22).

Finally, Noah and his family are allowed to escape their waiting.  Finally, they are out of that stinkin’ ark.  Finally, we see the worship and praise of glad hearts that are relieved to be done with the waiting!  We finally get to the words that we have grown to associate with the story of Noah.  Finally, it’s starting to sound like the Sunday School felt board of my youth.  Now, all that’s missing is the colorful rainbow.

Ahh…there it is, FINALLY, in verse 19 of Genesis chapter 9: “When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

We love to hear of God’s covenant…especially when it’s a promise to not destroy the earth in a horrific globe consuming torrential downpour.  We love to rest in the beautiful imagery of a magical rainbow filling the skies, with a felt cutout of a white bearded Noah underneath, standing on a green oval next to a pair of elephants.  This is what we remember when it comes to Noah.  This is what we are taught as children: God loves us and makes promises to us.

But we aren’t taught as children the bits of the story that are uncomfortably long and annoyingly difficult to swallow.  We aren’t taught the whole story.

Yes.  God’s promise here with the rainbow is good…real good…some of His finest work.  He’s spectacular in the role of promise maker and covenant keeper.

But, that’s not the conclusion of the Noah account.

“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.  He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.  Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him,  he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
 May God enlarge Japheth,[d]
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.”
After the flood Noah lived 350 years.  All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died” (Genesis 9:18-29).

WHAT THE…!??!?!

Even if it were socially acceptable to have a naked and passed out felt Noah, I’m sure we would refrain from retelling this portion of the story to our children.  Why?

Because it’s not a dreamy rainbow…and it’s an inappropriate scene…

Noah was about the closest thing to a celebrity that could be found in his day.  The people of the whole earth came from him.  Noah was channel 6’s citizen hero: He saved cute kitties and endangered salamanders during the massive flood.  Tweet: Noah was channel 6's citizen hero:He saved cute kitties & endangered salamanders during the massive flood. #NOAH #FINALLY #HeIsGoodIAmNOT He was the one wise enough to fashion an ark, brave enough to load it up with two of every kind, patient enough to outlast the waters.  (He would have done great on Survivor).  He was a legend, a war hero.  And that’s exactly where we like to leave the story hanging: with the legend given a promise by God left to re-populate the earth.

But he fell.  Hard.

Instead, we are left with a picture of a drunk old man, filled with shame and embarrassment, who lashes out in anger against a grandson.  (A grandson, who didn’t do anything wrong, but whose father disrespected Noah by telling his other sons about his drunkenness.)

So here it is…the kink in my rainbow.  I thought we’d finally get to the sunshine and moonbeams of the Noah story, only to be left with the nastiness of our human nature.   God is so amazing and faithful, making the firmest of promises to his people…and then his people act like thisnasty.

Noah is no different than you and I, no different than the Israelites who turned to worthless idols, no different than the disciples who abandoned Jesus in the garden.

The hard lesson:  God is so faithful, and I am NOT.

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I’ve got the stuff of legends, especially biblical legends, or at least that it’s somehow attainable.  I want to believe that by digging into these famous people, I will learn the secret to waiting, to patience, to faithfulness, to thankfulness, to joy, etc.  I trick myself into believing that I, like Noah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Peter, Paul, will be swept up in a tale of adventure and transformation to be repeated for generations to come.  I put my hope in gaining all the favorable characteristics of the “greats”…whether their passion, their perseverance, their faith, or their legendary adventure.

But when I read the fine print of every story, I see that they all bear testimony to the weakness of our humanity, to our frail nature, our wishy-washy-ness, and our faithlessness.

Noah reminds me that 1) yes, God makes a covenant to the world that never again will He destroy the entirety of it with a flood, and 2)

God has to make rainbow promises because He’s got every good reason to be done with us.Tweet: God has to make rainbow promises because He's got every good reason to be done with us. #NOAH #FINALLY #HeIsGoodIAmNOT

I find my stomach churning nightly during the evening news.  Human trafficking runs rampant, hidden slavery joints tucked away in nearly every other shopping strip mall on the way to my children’s school.  Social media lights up when the next superstar pastor is caught in infidelity.  Our country rallies around athletic heroes arrested for spousal abuse or after being found overdosed in places of ill repute.  I find myself yelling, once again, at my child who wants nothing more than to spend time with his momma, but my selfishness turns me against my own flesh and blood.

I am just like Noah.

God has every reason to wipe me out.  He has every reason to annihilate this world full of people who can’t seem to get it together.

We are a bunch of Noahs, who don’t know our gluttonous selfish limits and breathe curses when our sin is bled out naked for all to see.Tweet: We are a bunch of Noahs, who don't know our gluttonous selfish limits & breathe curses when our sin is bled out naked for all to see. #NOAH

But we have a God, who in His great love makes covenant after covenant with HIMSELF on our behalf. Tweet: But we have a God, who in His great love, makes covenant after covenant with HIMSELF on our behalf. #NOAH #FINALLY  “The Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth'” (Genesis 8:21).

He reminds HIMSELF, that though what we deserve is eternal death, the truly just thing is to remain faithful to His promises.

That rainbow…it’s not a covenant reminder for us, it’s a reminder for HIM.Tweet: That rainbow…it's not a covenant reminder for us, it's a reminder for HIM. #NOAH #FINALLY #HeIsGoodIAmNOT

“When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh” (Genesis 9:14-15).

I am floored.  I am Noah.  I am drunk and passed out, unworthy of such a promise.  His covenant is so good, because we are so NOT.Tweet: I am floored. I am Noah. I am drunk and passed out, unworthy of such a promise. His covenant is so good, because we are so NOT. #NOAH

It’s not about how great Noah was for all his years of waiting.  The point is not to assess these biblical greats as impressive, or dare I say, to encourage myself to be more like them.  The point is that God is the one who is above all and through all the hero, the legend, the impressive one.  So yes, in the end, FINALLY, we get to the good part, though still a hard pill to swallow when chased with my selfish pride …HE IS FAITHFUL.

BLEH…I’ve been putting off this next Noah post.  I wish I could say that my procrastination has been a well thought-out plan to impose a period of waiting on those following.  But, 1) I’m not that brilliant, and 2) I doubt anyone out there has been losing sleep because the next Noah post hasn’t appeared in their inbox.

It’s been plain procrastination…and honestly, I’m simply tired talking about waiting.  It is super uncomfortable to suppose that the Lord of all creation wants me to wait…not just once, but over and over again.  He is continually putting me through various seasons of waiting and the story of Noah only confirms that this is sometimes how God works.

It really is plain and simple.  His timing is nothing like mine.  There is really no point in trying to explain it, because it’s inexplainable.  There’s no purpose in comprehending it, because it’s incomprehensible.

This morning, as I sat down to write, a little two-year-old entered the room with a Thomas the Tank Engine book asking for a “choo-choo movie.”

“Okay,” I said, “Let Mommy finish this one sentence.”

Tears.  Lots and lots of tears.

“Just wait…”, I said.

He has no concept of the word, ‘wait’.  To him, the word is synonymous with ‘no’.

Being the observant and understanding parent that I am, (I wish you could see my sarcastic smirk on your screen), I led him through some questions of logic to teach him:

“Do you want to watch a train movie?”

He nodded his head.

“Okay.  Mommy says, ‘yes, you can watch a train movie.'”

He smiled.

“Now, did Mommy say, ‘yes’?”

He nodded.

“Okay, just wait a bit and Mommy will help start it.”

TEARS.

Obviously, I wasn’t connecting.  He could not understand or comprehend my timing or my request for him to wait…for literally a matter of seconds.  What was seconds for me, was an indescribable, apparently body-convulsing, life-shattering, traumatic amount of time for him.

Am I the same way with my Father?  What is seconds for Him, is an excruciating amount of torturous time for me?Tweet: Am I the same way with my Father? What is seconds for Him, is an excruciating amount of torturous time for me? #NOAH #waiting #BLEH

As I look once again at the story of Noah, especially Genesis 7 and 8, where I left off in the last post, there are many references to time.  So many in fact, that I had to get out two sheets of paper and map a timeline to wrap my mind around the account.

photo

The timing must be important, because dates are mentioned down to the month and day.  For instance, the rain started when Noah was 600 years, 2 months, and 17 days old.  That’s extremely specific.

We easily remember that it rained for 40 days and nights. (Probably because we’ve set that information to a tune.)  But my timeline uncovers that the earth was waterlogged for 150 days, roughly 5 months!  After those 5 months, the waters only started to recede.  Then the ark rested on Mount Ararat…for approximately 3 more months before other mountains were visible.  Another 40 days pass before Noah sent out the raven and the dove.  Another week passed before the dove returned with the olive branch.  Then another week before the dove was sent and didn’t return.  Noah waited yet another week after that before it was determined that the surface of the earth was completely dry.

Altogether, from the first day of rain until complete dryness, the whole ordeal on the boat lasted about 1 year and 10 days.  The bible is specific about this.  When the rain started to fall and Noah boarded the ark, he was 600 years, 2 months, and 17 days old.  When the land was completely dry, he climbed out at the age of 601 years, 2 months, and 27 days.

Noah had to wait over and over again.

Can you imagine?

Feeling the wind pick up, watching the clouds roll in…that first ominous roll of thunder on Day 1? Shoveling goat poo, yet again, listening to the rain fall outside on Day 19?  (Not even halfway through the storm yet?)  On Day 90, after the rain had stopped, to have not even yet seen a glimpse of the waters receding?  Then after 5 months of being on the boat, finally resting on a mountain…the rocking finally ceasing and the subsequent struggle for land-legs and equilibrium to return…only to sit for almost another 3 months on a peak surrounded by water?

Then more and more waiting…waiting on birds.  How seemingly small and powerless.  When that first dove was released, can you imagine the excitement and hope Noah and his family must have felt, feeling so close to getting off that stinkin’ boat…only to be disappointed and told to wait, yet again.

Noah had to wait over and over again.

I sit speechless…

All the waiting experienced by Noah forces me to realize that I, like a toddler, don’t understand waiting.  I often mistake it for a “no”.

I often labor and complain over long periods of waiting, that in the grand scheme of things, are mere nanoseconds of His intentionality.Tweet: I often labor & complain over long periods of waiting, that in the grand scheme of things, are mere nanoseconds of His intentionality. #wait

I have to rest on my own mountains surrounded by water to realize my dependency on God and His timing.  He ordains the rain. He tells the sun when to rise and set.  My job is to sit on the boat, look out at the water, and wait.  (BLEH)  Tweet: My job is to sit on the boat, look out at the water, and wait. #BLEH #NOAH #waiting

Job 37:4-6 says, “After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice, and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard.  God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.  For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.”

I imagine the thunder and the lightening during those first 40 days and nights of rain.  “He does great things we cannot comprehend”…

great things like forcing us to wait in His downpour. His mighty downpour.Tweet: He does great things we cannot comprehend. Great things like forcing us to wait in His downpour. His mighty downpour. #NOAH #waiting #BLEH

“‘Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.  For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.  But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.  Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.  Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.’  Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:16-22).

There is a man in the Netherlands who had a nightmare in 1992.  Johan Huibers dreamt that his low-lying country would flood.  As a result, He decided to create a working half-sized replica of the ark that would tour the canals, not to escape a devastating flood, but rather to lead people to see God through the story of Noah.  Years later, in 2008, he began a 3-year project to build a full-scale replica.  Today, this Dutchman’s “bible museum” contains life-size plastic animals, a petting zoo, a theater, sleeping quarters, a restaurant, and a conference room.

Can you imagine?

“Honey,  I had the craziest dream last night.”

“Hmm….”, as she stirs her coffee and rubs her eyes at the kitchen island.

“I think the boys and I should build an ark…We could devote the rest of our life to it’s construction, fill it with animals, and then wait for God to do something with it…what do ya think?”

“Oh, okay, dear…”

WHAT?!?!

Reading the specific directions of God to Noah in the verses above (which included a promise of death), then hearing of this crazy Dutchman pushes me outside my comfort zone.  Both men heard God and obeyed.

What has God been asking of me…and am I willing to obey?  What if His instructions end with “and there will be certain death for everything around you…”?

Back up…like this man in the Netherlands, am I even willing to entertain my dreams?  Am I willing to consider that God has legitimately spoken to me in my sleep?

Lately, our house has been filled with dreams.  Early this week, 50% of our children ended up in our room at some point having had a nightmare.  Over the past month, both Paul and I have been having dreams…and not flying-naked-down-the-middle-school-hallway-on-finals-week-after-realizing-you-forgot-to-attend-the-class-all-semester kind of dreams.

We’ve been having prolific holy-cow-there’s-no-denying-that-was-from-God kind of dreams.  (Now, we haven’t gone all Dutchman on those dreams).  Needless to say, Noah, Huibers, and these dreams have been challenging me.  They’ve been pushing the boundaries of my belief, my preset limits on God’s modern day communication methods, and my line-in-the-sand markings on reasonableness and comfort.

I’ve often read the end of verse 17, “Everything that is on the earth shall die,” and thought that must have been incredibly scary to hear.  How fear-filled Noah must have been!  How terrified his wife must have been!

However, this go around, I read the verses above and wonder if Noah was terrified at all.  God spoke to Noah.

In the midst of chaos and a world gone mad…God spoke to Noah.  He gave him some specific directions.  He warned him that it was about to get rough, real rough…like everyone-is-about-to-die-rough.

Rather than be filled with trepidation and fear, I now wonder if Noah was filled with the peace of a grandiose God who was relational enough to speak, give instruction, and give a “head’s up” about what was coming.

Of course, God doesn’t end his words to Noah with doom and gloom.  He makes a strange covenant with Noah: “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you”…and then on and on about animals and such.  At first glance, God’s covenant looks like nothing more than additional directions.  He doesn’t say: “I will save you”…”I will keep you out of harm’s way”…”I promise to never ask you to do such an outlandish and crazy thing ever again.”  He gives more instruction.  YOU and your family will come into the ark, YOU will gather a whole bunch of animals and food, and YOU will keep them alive.

As soon as God tells Noah to build an ark because He’s about to wreck the place, He “promises” that He will ask more of Noah.

This rubs me all kinds of wrong.

Our family’s midnight dreams of late have not been pie-in-the-sky visions of the future.  They have most assuredly included the promise of some heavy lifting and intense rain.    Noah was given instructions for monumental manual labor and then told that his neighbors, the trees in his backyard, everything and everyone apart from his family would be destroyed…then he was asked to do MORE!  And he still obeyed!

Nowhere do we read that Noah pulled a “Moses” and argued with God to save the people.  He didn’t go all “Jonah” and try to escape the responsibility and call laid before him.  He didn’t try his own way, fail, and then run away to hide like Adam and Eve.  He simply obeyed.  He followed the directions and got to work.

Noah was asked to DO, not to pray about it or cry about it.Tweet: Noah was asked to DO, not to pray about it or cry about it. #NOAH #WorkingCovenant

Mysteriously hidden in his to-do list from God, in a very ambiguous and implied manner, rests a covenant promise.  Therefore, Noah trusted and obeyed.

Here’s my main struggle with this:  I want a better promise.  I want a clearer covenant.  I want to know that after all the building, herding, raining, and waiting I will get to have a little farmhouse away from it all…with cute restored furniture, chickens, and a sweet pool…and my children will all learn to play a musical instrument and have their own band…and our neighbors will trade us homemade wine for eggs.  That’s what I want.  I want the promises made to me to be as clearly outlined as the details of what is being asked of me.  God gave Noah no such promises, just detailed directions.

I want a clean cut covenant that caters to me, not a mystified one that only asks me to do more.Tweet: I want a clean cut covenant that caters to me, not a mystified one that only asks me to do more. #NOAH #WorkingCovenant

I wrestle with this Genesis passage because God doesn’t seem to work my way.  However, He must still be trustworthy, because Noah trusted and obeyed…even when the covenant seemed to promise nothing but more work.  I’ve got no resolution to the friction between the promise I want and the promise God gives.

After a month of strange dreams and aggravating Noah study, I am only left with this thought:

If God can push through my pre-drawn conceived notions of Him, than surely He can push past my wildest expectations of Him.  Therefore, I trust and obey, even if the only covenant promise I hear Him speak is a command for more.

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 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 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.

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.