As we search for things to remember in the unknown, there may not be a more iconic Bible story than Noah’s Ark. This story brings cute, animal-filled arks that decorate nurseries in churches and homes alike. The sweet tiny animals can be found in toy isles, children’s books and coloring pages.
We might think the detailed account of Noah’s life is better left for kids church or bedtime stories because we, as adults, already know it so well. We know it forwards and backwards, breezing through the words and often forgetting the many lessons to be learned.
Will you jump back into the story with me anyway?
Let’s go to Genesis 6-9. Having found favor with God, Noah was given the challenging task of building an ark that was very specific in size. He was to gather food, supplies, his family and many animals. He didn’t know how long it would take to build this massive boat or even how long they would live inside it, yet he obeyed God.
The rains came. The great deep burst forth and the windows of heaven were opened.
For 40 days the water increased.
Then, the waters receded and they got off the boat.
Unfortunately for Noah and his family, the events of the next months were not as simple as that phrase. For many weeks, they remained inside the ark with the smells and sounds of animals having only each other for company.
Finally, a breakthrough comes in Genesis 8 as God remembers Noah and sends a wind to blow over the earth. A wind that would subside the waters enough for the ark to land upon a mountain. After months of floating, the ark was set on solid ground.
Genesis 8:1 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”
Yet, the door to the ark remained firmly closed. Their time on the ark was not done. For three more months the waters would recede and Noah’s family would wait.
One day, a dove returned with an olive branch letting Noah know that there was dry land out there somewhere.
Two MORE months would pass before Noah and his family would set foot on dry ground. Two more months of waiting, wondering, sitting in the unknown of what was outside the walls of the boat.
Nearly a full year passed while this family lived on the ark!
What can we learn, I wonder, from this amazing, challenging story? How can we find things to remember in the unknown of right now? If we view it with our adult eyes and put ourselves in the story, what are the takeaways?
Like Noah, you have been given a task. God has called you, prepared you, and stretched you for a purpose. This past year, we all have witnessed incredible suffering, experienced grief and loss, walked through untold unknowns, waited for things to get better and hoped that something would finally get back to normal.
The waiting and grieving and wondering doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.
When will we get off the boat of unbelievable crazy the world seems to be sitting in?
In the unknowns of this time in history, you might find yourself wanting to rush, plow, push and go before the time is right. On the other hand, you could be waiting for things to get better when God is asking you to trust him and go now.
In the waiting, you might be quickly losing sight of the task and drown in the overwhelming feelings of waiting and wondering.
In the cancelation of plans, events, travels, parties, and dreams, you wonder and wait and hold on to hope… but for how long?
You’re exhausted in the waiting.
Your dream job isn’t so dreamy right now.
Your new business has hit a few bumps in the road.
Your goals are taking much longer than expected.
Your patience is wearing thin.
Your timeline keeps getting adjusted.
Your expectations go unmet.
Your task is complicated, scary and unending.
Your fears keep growing and multiplying.
How can we obey, wait and keep the faith in the midst of these kinds of challenges?
How can we trust that God remembers us in the unknowns?
1} During each unknown, take a deep breath. Evaluate. Assess.
Noah took one day at a time. He completed each task set before him with precision and obedience and patience. He wasn’t pushing the door of the ark open even though he knew dry land was out there somewhere. He waited for God to say go.
2} Don’t be afraid to obey and trust God.
Noah knew that God had asked him to walk an incredible journey of faith. Although the Bible doesn’t tell us specifically, we can imagine that he faced push back, doubting, questions, and challenge from all sides, each step of the way. Yet, Noah obeyed. He trusted God through it all.
3} Learn to be thankful for the process, during the process.
Noah had his whole family with him, supplies to sustain them and a mountaintop to keep them from floating aimlessly. They experienced the power, presence, and provision of God in ways no man had yet experienced. They saw a brand new earth.
4} Watch for God to move in your unknowns.
God was present through each part of Noah’s life. He instructed, provided, helped and spoke into each unknown Noah faced. From beginning to end, we see God in every unknown.
5} Celebrate the milestones.
The first thing that Noah did as his family stepped off the ark was to build an altar to God. He marked the occasion by praising God.
“So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord…” Genesis 8:18-20
When God speaks, we can know there will be unknowns.
Just like Noah, we are tasked with something great, something challenging, something amazing but it will include push back, waiting, wondering, trusting and following.
I don’t know what your something is right now. I don’t know what unknowns you face in this moment. But I do know that God is present in your circumstance and you can apply the story of Noah to your many tasks and many unknowns.
He has not gone missing. He is not sleeping or taking a vacation.
He sees us. He remembers us. He’s faithful to his promises.
We can stand on that truth in the midst of every unknown of now and in the months to come.
What have you learned or how have you been challenged as you put yourself into this amazing faith story?
What do you need to remember in your current unknown?
*This is a post I originally wrote in 2018 for the blog Grit&Virtue. I’ve edited the post for 2021 and all that we are experiencing in the world right now.