Essays on Faith – Noah

I like to think that I’m totally good with believing the entirety of the Bible. It’s the living and active, inspired Word of God and all, but then I read stories like Noah’s over again and I’m challenged so much more deeply than I thought possible. It’s another strange one. Yet, I must trust all of the Word if I trust any of it.

If we think the world right now is broken and scary, imagine the darkest time in the history of mankind where every thought and action was bent with selfishness, malice, and deceit. Imagine living in war-torn slums filled with violence and murder and openly witnessing every horrifying, disturbing practice under the sun. There was no peace. There was no restful slumber. There was no justice, no mercy. All was fear and retaliation. All was desperate aggression and wantonness. It didn’t peter out at the edge of a bad neighborhood or on the way up the societal ladder. All was smothering panic and dangerous reality.

This is the world Noah lived in. This is the backdrop of his dogged obedience. This is the setting during which God told him to build a cruise liner when he had only ever seen a canoe. “Noah did this; he did all that the Lord had commanded him.” (Gen 6:22) For 120 years he toiled in backbreaking diligence to a directive that must have seemed insane. It didn’t even rain in that pre-flood era of time! How could the entire world flood?

Did he ever doubt? Did he ever question God? I have no idea how he knew what God was telling him because it seems straight up utterly and completely crazy. We aren’t afforded any more details. But we are told again, “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.” (Gen 7:5).

Faith = obedience to God. Can it be that simple? A long obedience in the same direction? A low trajectory towards a distant goal? Noah did what God told him. And it took him 120 years to do it. That’s a long time of faithfulness. That’s a long time of going against the grain. That’s a long time of being alone and trusting that God has a purpose and a plan beyond what he could see or understand. I have a hard time with a few days of trusting God with no tangible results to justify.

But God has not called us to anything more nor less drastic. By faith, Noah did what God directed. In that, my life calling is not so different. Faith equals obedience. Faith spells itself out in daily showing up and putting in the work God has set before me. There is no shortcut or FastTrack. Faith shows up in only long obedience and a constant turning towards Him.

By faith, out of reverent fear of God, Noah constructed an ark. By faith, this obedience saved his household. By faith, he lived and breathed obedience in a thousand daily moments over thousands and thousands of days. By faith, those long unwritten moments gained him righteousness and teach us still. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)

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