How to build a believable story in unbelievable times
Noah was a man who chose to move in a direction with God that was contrary to the world. He found rest at a time in history when the community and world around him was restless. The account of Noah may be more commonly known as a man who built an ark, who housed animals two of every kind, male and female. Noah was known as the man who survived the great flood(Genesis 6:5-9:28) and saw a rainbow at the end of the storm.
But that’s just the surface of the story.
There is a greater narrative that takes us much deeper. Noah’s unexpected journey reveals the plan that God has for each one of us—that when trouble floods our world and when our lives get a bit rocky, God protects us from drowning. God will be faithful to us when we are in need of rescue and peace. He is the giver of grace and fulfiller of promises. We can build a better life in Christ and be a significant part of God’s redemptive story.
Jesus said we are living in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-38, Luke 17:26) Our culture is defined by unprecedented times. The global pandemic has many people anxiously indoors coping to find lasting solutions in stressful environments. There is civil and urban unrest that is interrupted by the agendas of violent rioters. When the world you live in gets chaotic, where do you find rest for your soul?
At the heart of this story a beautiful truth is revealed, loving God more than anything in the world will move you in the right direction.
In the early chapters of Genesis, God establishes a covenant with Noah, and tells him to build an ark that will save him and his family from the global flood. Sin was everywhere and God was hurt that his creation made a choice to go the other way. The world was corrupt, people were suffering, chaos and violence was the norm (Genesis 6:11).
Noah went against popular opinion, and obeyed God which allowed him to find favor in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:22, 8:15-19). Evil dominated the hearts of the human race. Sin had separated people from God’s presence and God saw that people were willing to do anything to get ahead.The choice to sin and ignore God, would cost them everything. This would only lead them in the wrong direction as they would move further away from God’s provision.
Devastation is inevitable when we choose to edit and delete God out of our story.
Noah was a blameless man who had character and integrity. He honored the truth and walked close to God (Genesis 6:9). He and his three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, were busy constructing and preparing a shelter because of God’s judgement over sin.
For the next 100 years they followed through on detailed instructions, making this ark of gopherwood (450’ length x 45’ height x 75’ width), having one window, and one door.
This boat was a rectangular box with no sail, or rudder, but somehow Noah would trust that if he did his part on the journey then God could certainly keep his family of eight and a variety of livestock a float. He was aware that God had a plan that would change the world and he wanted to move in the same direction God was moving.
There was a time when I felt rudderless, directionless in my own way.
I had returned home to Boston and wanted to spend a couple of hours exploring a city that meant so much to me. Boston is as full of historical architecture as it is unannounced one way streets and edgy northeast drivers that will make you want to “park your car”.
That day, I felt like a stranger in a town I used to know well. My mother and I took some unfamiliar roads and my GPS kept re-calibrating. My mom lowered the volume on the device and proceeded to direct me along the path. It seemed to her that there was a better way to get to our destination than the GPS was giving.
At one point, I remember my mom saying, “Please listen to me!” There was a choice before me.I could continue to look at the GPS or I could listen to wisdom. I was behind the wheel, but my mom had traveled on these roads before and she also knew me. Looking back, I realized she was definitely the one doing the navigating that day—not me and not even the map. Nevertheless all the tension subsided as we arrived safely at our destination.
I wonder if there is a commonality between this story and Noah’s? Noah could have listened to the “experts” in his town giving him wrong directions or he could have chosen to worry about how a rudderless boat would be directed safely to an unknown destination. Instead, he listened to wisdom. He trusted the voice of God to tell the story.
God has big plans for us, but it takes small steps of faith if we hope to embark on what’s never been done before. It takes faith to build a boat when there’s never been a drop of rain. It takes faith to believe God will gather all the animals and navigate you safely in a storm. We must do what is possible and trust God for the impossible. Faith allowed Noah to take a step in God’s direction and experience the hope that he and his family would be saved.
"By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God."(Hebrews 11:7, The Message)
The rain fell for forty days and nights as he lived in close quarters with his relatives. Noah spent a little over a year hearing unwanted opinions, managing and caring for smelly animals, but somehow chose to believe that the boat was a place of refuge in the storm. Faith writes God into our script and helps us to see that Jesus is the hero in each of our stories.
At some point, the storm hits everyone—those inside and outside of the boat, but your final destination is contingent on whether or not God gets to be the author and the finisher of your story(Hebrews 12:2).
I was serving and living for Christ for over ten years when my struggle turned into a catastrophic storm. My boat was rocked when my late husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. We all face hardship, but encountering a storm without Christ can destroy you. Christ redeemed my story a she allowed me to receive comfort and peace through a loving Christian community. His presence healed me from the grief and I was able to give comfort and strength to others, including my little children.
Several years after my perfect storm, I married my now husband, Larry. He too was a widow and understood that we needed to continue to trust God to direct our steps and our lives. It is a blessed new day as I moved forward with my blended family into a new season.
This is how God carries us through things that feel like they are going to destroy us.
If your faith is in him, Jesus has rescued your soul and will redeem the painful parts of your story.As we can see, Noah’s life of obedience did not exempt him from a conflict free life, but it did protect him from a devastated life. Jesus wants to rescue your soul and redeem the painful parts of your story.
We each have a choice to follow Christ no matter how hard it gets. He wants to save you and also give you an opportunity to have a brand new life in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus always had the same plan no matter the route: to redeem us and rebuild something new.
Who’s writing your narrative? Don’t settle for an autobiography when God wants to perfect your journey and rebuild your life. He has a great story to write about you, one that includes faith, conflict, redemption, and hope.
Discuss some ways that God has encouraged you during a devastating time. This week, journal some ways that you can embrace a long suffering and hard working season and remain faithful toGod’s storytelling in the process.