Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Faith like Noah

Hebrews 11:7: By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

I've been thinking a lot about Noah.
And I've been thinking about how faith can sometimes feel like risky business.
Oh, I know, true faith in God isn't risky at all, at least not from His vantage point.
God knew He would finish the work He began in Noah's heart.
God knew His loving grip on Noah's heart would be sufficient to carry forth the work of construction to completion.
There was no Plan B, only Plan A...and Noah was it!!!
God had faith in Noah because God is Faith-ful!

But on the ground here, where the winds of doubt swirl and the storms of disillusionment and fear threaten, faith can feel pretty risky, even to the most stoic and courageous of heart.

Noah must have had his share of risky feelings.
Mankind had never experienced a single thunderstorm or rainfall, nor did they even know what rain looked like, yet God told Noah to build a boat, a vessel that would be carried by waters that no-one even knew existed.
Scholars can only guess how long Noah was busy building but the estimations range somewhere between 50-75 years.
That's a LONG time to be busy building something that everyone around you would consider absolutely useless.
The patient endurance required of Noah over the course of these long and lonely years is unfathomable to me.
The nagging questions and incessant remarks from onlookers must have taken their toll on him, likely making him the greatest laughing stock of all time.

And then perhaps the questions from the shadows of his own heart:

"Why bother, Noah?
Are you sure you heard God right?
Are you sure he meant for you to do this?
Doesn't it make sense for you to spend more time evangelizing these sinners rather than building a boat and leaving them to drown?"

Yet Noah obediently continued the unwanted and prophetic work he was called to do.
In holy fear, he knew God's warning was no idle threat.
His faith, obedience, and hard work prove that he and God were on the same page.
Change was coming and it was Noah's job to prepare the way of escape.

Noah's faithful life is a beautiful picture of what it looks like, and feels like, to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

There is so much more that could be said about Noah and the theological significance surrounding this story.
For now, though, my focus is on the "risk" of obedient faith.
I think this poem captures some of the swirling feelings we often experience when we follow where God is leading.
We hear His voice calling but we can't see the pathway before us.
We walk by faith, not by sight....one step at a time....one "yes" at a time!!

To Risk (by William Arthur Ward)

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk being called sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self.
To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
That person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change;
The realist adjusts the sails.

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