Sam had me read it to her again today. Noah, a man of faith, worked for one hundred and twenty years on something that no one around him had any concept of, nor respect for, a box. A big box. A big box with a lot of animals in it, no less. Two of most, even seven of some. As Noah built it, he spoke of God's warning and promise of coming judgment to those who watched. When the ark was finished, Noah and his family went inside the ark. God shut the door. But here's the part that hit me:
They waited for seven days before the first drop of rain fell.
Imagine living, waiting, day after day for seven days, with all those animals. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Waiting. On dry land, in a box, for a week. That's a while to wait for something big to happen in my perspective. I'm always too ready for the next big thing to happen. I do not do well during waiting periods.
But then I realized how very much the Ark is a picture of the Christian life.
Here we are abiding in God's will, obeying His commandments and timing, while to the world it looks like craziness, confinement, certainly not freedom. Life in a big box.
When we enter ready to see God's promise fulfilled and the adventure to begin, we first often have to wait. God told Noah and his family that they would wait for seven days before it would rain for forty days and nights. They went inside and God shut the door. They waited while the world outside seemingly went on unaffected.
Those outside watched. They wondered. They scoffed and talked. Noah and his family, they waited. The boundaries, the confines of the box, held them in safety. Only inside God's good and perfect will, within His decrees for how to live this life, were they safe from the impending storm.
Finally, the rain came just as God said it would. Only the eight who had been disciplined by one hundred and twenty years of work, and even more so by the seven days of waiting through living in an ocean carrier with myriads of animals on dry land, were saved.
The seven days were preparation, practice. A dry run, so to speak.
God was preparing them to live out the next year in the Ark with the collection of Creation chosen to be preserved with them. Seven days of learning where and how everything would work now that the Ark was stocked and provisioned, full of animals. There was no life to be found outside of the Ark for them. Everything was contained there-in, with them. It was a new way of life. All else would soon be water. This time of practice must have been beneficial for Noah and his family. Thus, it must be also for me.
Spiritually, I have been building a ship, learning God's Word and His ways. Now God asks me to abide in it.
For me, that's the hardest part. Building, creating, doing... Now that I can do.
But lately, it seems I have been waiting, waiting inside a ship on dry land. Waiting for that ship to launch, to float, to be made evident. I am tempted to escape, to agree with those taunting outside that they are the ones who are free. But, this waiting period is critical for my well being. These boundaries are what strengthen me in my spiritual, mental and even physical development, that I might be able to weather the storm.
Though the world may scoff at the limits that you or I as a Christian may choose to live in, these conditions prepare us for, and even promise, Life. A life lived abundantly. A life well-watered, rooted and grounded in love.
I am just learning to embrace this discipline. Learning to speak out despite the naysayers. What's true is true. Learning to trust God. His promises can not be revoked. They are solid, a foundation worthy of all decision-making. I am a terrible decision-maker. But I have a Great Shepherd, who keeps His Word. I can trust Him. That even though it may seem (even to myself sometimes) that I am shut up in a big wooden box packed with wild animals, in the middle of a dry place, there is a life-saving reason for it. Abiding in His will is the only way I will stay afloat.
Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Gen 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Gen 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
Gen 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
Gen 7:5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
Gen 7:7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
Gen 7:10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
Gen 7:16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
Gen 7:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
Gen 7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained [alive], and they that [were] with him in the ark.
Teach me Lord to abide with You, to willingly wait. For only within Your commandments is there Life. Thank You for Your Word, Lord. Your Word is truth.
P.S. Several hours later...
I've been thinking on just how to abide when one is remaining in that protected place... here's what's been whispered on my heart:
1) Remember the purpose.
- Take stock of what's around me. It's all here for a purpose. For my highest good.
2) Remember why I have the privilege of being in this place.
- I have been saved from certain destruction.
3) Do what I can where I am.
- If I have to abide in this seemingly restricted place, there is still much I can do within these boundaries. In fact, what I can do here and now is more important than what I could be doing elsewhere. Hard to swallow sometimes, but then it's all the more true.
4) Give thanks.
- For my family that is with me. For the experience of this environment. For God telling me ahead of time, wait. I'm communing with The All Mighty!
5) Be willing to adapt.
- If I am really going to successfully wait, I have to be willing to allow God to make changes in my life and in me.
6) Be still and sit at His feet.
- The benefit of being in His presence is peace. Peace can not be found outside of this place.
Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me, teaching me and remaining with me. You are my Peace. You are my Salvation. Help me to embrace Your life saving boundaries.