It matters how you show up in the world. It matters tremendously! And, it’s certainly not just about what we say for we all know the old adage, “actions speak louder than words.” Plus, if up to 93% of our communication is nonverbal, then what exactly are we communicating to the onlooker…and make no mistake, there are always onlookers especially our very own children and grandchildren. Does my behavior line up with my beliefs? I can’t truly hide who I am although I might try. All my secrets and foibles are bound to eventually show. In Proverbs we read that “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”
I began thinking about Noah. We are told in Genesis simply that God chose him for a very specific purpose because he was a righteous and blameless man. What an honour! I imagine that he accepted this job in humble obedience. Somehow we often get it into our heads that obedience to God is optional. Yes we have free will but being obedient to God’s commands unlocks the extravagant abundance of blessing, and the salvation, he desires for us and even for others. Noah was 500 years old when he obeyed this command from God and began his humongous ark-raising task, not exactly what I would call a young man but perhaps rather middle aged for his day.
With very precise instructions, God gave Noah the exact dimensions for building the ark. From what we are told he did not deviate. He didn’t think that another window here or the door placed there would be better than God’s plan….but we often do that, don’t we. He didn’t omit certain animals because they were too messy or perhaps too hard to capture. No, Noah followed the Lord’s blueprint with focused determination.
Many scholars debate some historical points. Some say there hadn’t been any rain before, some are concerned about the exact number of days in a month back then, or for others, how long the actual construction took, although we do know it was about 100 years. These are all important considerations. But when I read the story, I am more focused on another aspect.
I realize that Noah is now about 600 years old when into the ark he and his family go along with all of the animals he has gathered. I see a man who let his earnest endeavor stand as his testimony for almost 100 years! Genesis doesn’t say that he was a preacher so I envision him going about his work without saying too much. As the construction expanded and the boat rose from the piles of lumber, we have to wonder what his family and friends must have thought. But Noah’s incredible determination and faith were the witness! I see Noah, the family patriarch, recruiting his sons and possibly others to not only help construct the boat, gather the required food, and coral the animals, but then lead his whole entourage onboard inside. This is profound perseverance! This is profound obedience! Despite the extraordinary length of time the whole project took, the incredulous collective gasp from probably just about everyone, and maybe even his suspected lunacy, the Bible never gives us any indication that Noah wavered at all!
I love that the Bible allows us space prompting us to use our own human experience to fill in the gaps when we consider a man like Noah. I can’t help but ask myself what my behavior demonstrates. Noah certainly had a very firm and quiet confidence in God’s plan. The rain would come. His family would be saved. The world would not be totally destroyed. It didn’t matter how long it took. Any opposition was of no consequence to him. Others’ unbelief didn’t dissuade him. Straight as an arrow he moved forward day by day with dogged persistence….for almost 100 years! I wonder if he whistled as he worked….
Then God himself closed the door! Genesis 7:16
Can there be any better place than safely held in the Father’s arms? When God himself shut the door, it was a demonstration confirming WHO was still really IN CHARGE. Noah smiled. Yes, the plan was indeed unfolding just as God said it would.
And still they waited an additional 7 days before the rain began…
Again I wonder what went on inside the ark as they huddled together in the dark, ate meals in silence, fed and cared for the animals. Did the doubters and skeptics among them slowly wonder anew as they waited day after day, or did they now feel more secure since God himself had closed the door behind them? Did they feel the promise taking shape holding still in confident obedience?
And then they heard a drop softly falling on the roof. A few moments later another, and then another, and they weren’t quite sure what is was they were hearing. The animals stirred. The sound of the drops suddenly then all blended together to create a crashing crescendo on the roof. They clung together in fear and dread until the whole boat shifted and rocked as they lost their footing and stumbled. Soon though they felt the ark creak and completely move as it left solid ground, vigorously swaying as it settled into the angry waves of the storm…and they knew the rains had come at last. Noah’s heart sang for joy!
Yes indeed it matters how we show up in the world, it matters profoundly! I may not be building an ark, but my life, my actions, are a witness every single day.
“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Genesis 6:22 NIV