Devotional: Applying the Bible to my today.
Read: Genesis 8
By Halee Wood
It's the story that just about every church-going child knows…the story of Noah's Ark. How cute - the animals going in two at a time…there's no mention of years of outcast from Noah's community, poop having to be picked up, or anxiety felt by Noah's family once they had to board the ark and just sit and wait.
For many years, had anyone asked me how Noah decided to get off the ark, I would have recalled him sending the raven and the dove out; I assumed that Noah decided for himself when to get off the boat, but that is not what scripture tells us in Genesis 8:15-16! God told Noah it was time to leave the ark, and He gave him some instructions regarding the animals.
The thing that deeply strikes me is the amount of time between Noah knowing there was dry land and when God told him to leave the ark. From Noah's first indication that there was dry land until he got off the boat was 107(ish) days! That is over three months!
Three months isn't that long in general everyday life, but when you are sitting there doing nothing but waiting for the rest of your life to begin and you have no idea why you can't get off the boat, three months is FOREVER!
How do you think Noah felt?
Let’s look at the relative number of days Noah and his family were on the boat and think about potential emotions. The emotions I list here are how I think I would have felt if I were Noah but, of course, the Bible doesn't record Noah’s emotions or the many ways God may have comforted him during this stay on the ark.
By the way, regarding the number of days, this is what I captured, but I didn't do a detailed study. Even if the exact number is off, the bottom line is still the same…it was a VERY long journey.
- Event: Rain, rain, and more rain
- Potential Emotions: Sorrow for those dying outside the boat, but deep gratitude for the rain; God did what He said He would do
- Event: Water steadily declining; ark finally rested on the mountain
- Potential Emotion: Gratitude for rest after the years of building the ark
- Event: The mountain top became visible.
- Potential Emotion: Fear of what lies ahead after getting off the ark
- Event: Sent raven and dove to see if there were indications of dry land…nothing
- Potential Emotion: Feeling antsy; wanting to get to the inevitable of getting off the boat
- Event: Sent out dove again; it came back with an olive leaf, giving indications of receding waters and possibly dry land!
- Potential Emotion: Elation! Must be getting off the boat soon
- Event: Sent dove again; it never returned.
- Potential Emotion: More elation; total expectation of getting off the boat any day
- Event: Ground was all dried up.
- Potential Emotion: Confusion, frustration! Why has God not let them off the boat yet?!
- Event: God told Noah to get off the ark.
- Potential Emotion: Gratitude; ready to face whatever lies ahead
I assume the last few months of Noah's boat ride were the hardest because it may not have made sense to him why he still needed to sit on the boat.
Do you ever feel this way…"I am ready God, why am I still waiting?"
While those are the feelings I think I would have had if I were Noah, that may not have been the case at all. The ark had been a safe place for Noah and his family. It had been an insightful gift from God that had protected them from the rain, and it may have even protected them from having to hear and see the cries and pleas of their drowning friends and neighbors. It is possible that they didn't want to get off the boat at all because it had provided them comfort in so many ways. And, now, they were faced with all the unknowns of the future.
Do you ever feel this way... "My current place feels safe. Why would you make me get off here?"
Much like Noah, I have a history with God where He has followed through and has done what He said He would do. There have been many times in which I assumed I knew the way, only to realize that I knew very little and God knows everything. He has been faithful every time. I assume that this type of history is what kept Noah sane those last few months on the boat.
Building the ark was certainly a noteworthy act by Noah, but there's something Noah did as soon as he got off the ark that was equally noteworthy but rarely mentioned - he immediately built an altar to the Lord and offered a burnt sacrifice. When I think of all the tasks this family had to do, it was a big deal that they took the time for sacrificing first. Then, as a beautiful end to Genesis 8, it says, "The Lord smelled the soothing aroma, and the Lord said to Himself, 'I will never again curse the ground on account of man..."
Whether you are the person who wants to remain in the comfort of the boat or the person who is overly eager to get off the boat in order to accomplish the next thing, I pray for each of us today that we will recognize God's sovereignty and His desire AND ability to lead us into the next "thing" in perfect timing. I also pray that our first response, when the end of waiting finally arrives, will not be to just go on about our business but, instead, our first response will be that of giving God the honor. Let’s give Him praise even today because the victory isn't just when this is over; the victory is in what is happening in and through us even during our time of waiting.
Gratitude and praise are not always easy choices to make, but I have never regretted it.
What is your struggle? Are you able to recognize God's hand in your wait...in your hardship… today?
Father God, we are not a patient people. Give us endurance, strength of character and hope that doesn't disappoint. Unite us as a body whether we are the ones anticipating getting off the boat or want to stay within the safety of the boat, prepare us to sit still until it is time to leave and to walk boldly when it is. You are God; we are not. May we humble ourselves and our circumstances before you, and may we joyfully anticipate the time of praise, worship and sacrifice in Your honor. Amen.
Halee Wood is a Certified Life Coach, Speaker and Writer. Connect with her at Run the Race Together.