A Lesson from Noah’s Wife

On that very day Noah and his sons… together with his wife and the wives of his three sons entered the ark…. Then the Lord shut [them] in.   Gen. 7:13, 15-16

 

He couldn’t have done it alone. We tend to see Noah’s story as his… alone. But that’s not what scripture says. Eight adults took the steps of faith needed to make it on that ark. And let’s face it, from what most of us know about life and trying to manage a household with kids, no one really does it alone.

My husband is on an overseas trip. His first of many. He’s stepping into the role God has called him to and gifted him for and it’s exciting to watch him thrive. It’s also tempting for me to think, “What about me, God? I want to follow your call. I’m willing for you to use me. When do I get to go? I’m left behind with our three sons… where’s the glamour in that?”

This is not the first time I’ve wrestled with thoughts like these. Not the first time I’ve watched others step into new roles, roles I’d love to fill: a spot on a cheerleading squad that went to the one with a popular football-playing older brother; a part in a musical number that went to the one with finer vocal skills; a teaching position that went to the one with flashier stories and a younger face…

I’m not bitter. Not anymore.

No, really I’m not!

Yes, it was hard being passed over, or feeling like I didn’t get my due. But now that I’m 40-something and have been seasoned a bit by marriage and disappointment, I look for the unique ways God has gifted each of us and the roles He wants each of us to play.

When God is calling in the context of family, each of us has a role to play.

I mean, think about it. Noah’s wife had to be “on board” with this ark building project!

She had to pick up the slack when Noah’s other household chores went undone. She had to feed her family with limited resources while living on the ark… no refrigeration!  She had to step inside the smelly ark loaded with wild animals (and snakes!), even when none of her friends would join her. She had to be willing to start again, rebuilding house and homestead in a new place once the waters receded. She stood by her man. She didn’t hold him back. She didn’t squash his dream. Maybe she even dreamed along with him…

She is a model of how to walk beside a man of faith, a man called by God to do the work of God.

Sadly, many of the other wives mentioned in scripture aren’t model partners. Remember Abraham’s wife, Sarah – too impatient to wait on God’s timing for a promised child; or Lot’s wife – too tied the the comforts of Sodom to fix her eyes on the one who came to rescue; or David’s wife, Michal – too concerned with maintaining her royal image to engage in joy-filled worship. And then, Adam’s wife, Eve, who was too curious about what God might have withheld from them to stay the course and obey.

Most likely, God’s purposes in these men’s lives weren’t thwarted by the support they lacked from their wives. God is not limited by our disobedience. But, I do think we miss out on some of the joy He desires for us when we obey.

I want to be as faithful, industrious, resourceful, creative and loyal as Noah’s wife.

Hand HoldingLet me not complain when my husband is distracted by work. Let me pick up the slack and come alongside to cheer on and celebrate steps of faith. Let me support him in struggles and cloudy vision, and lie with him after long, exhausting days. I know that’s a high bar to set. And I know I won’t reach it perfectly. But Noah’s wife has shown me a little bit of what it might look like.

 

You have called us both, my Father. You have equipped and supplied and enabled us both. So even though right now, I’m the one called to stay behind, I thank you for this role. I thank you for the specific ways you’ve equipped me, and I thank you for what you are building in me as I wait on You. Let us both run with endurance this marathon of faith.

 

God’s Favor: Noah’s Story

But Noah found favor with God. Gen 6:8

 

I love that this verse begins with “but”. Noah is the exception – his life is one that stands out to God as different than all the wicked and corrupted individuals God sees on the earth. What brought the favor?

Solo pineVerse 9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”

So Noah’s character was righteous – right from the inside out, his actions were blameless – free from fault or guile, and his habit was to walk with God – not according to his own design. Noah sounds like the kind of man God would choose.

I wonder, did Noah “find” God’s favor because these things were true of him, or was Noah able to live this way because of God’s favor upon him? Was it merited favor – based on his life and actions toward God – or was it unmerited favor –based on God’s choosing, then resulting in a life that stands apart?

I think the word “found” is interesting, too. Was Noah looking for God’s favor or did he stumble upon it? Was it the direction and attitude of his heart to live in a way that God would see as favorable?

Did he seek out ways to please God, even when he was alone in that seeking? Noah didn’t have a Sunday school class or accountability group to help him stay focused. Truly, Noah was the ultimate “lone-ranger.”

But, it’s the timing that’s really interesting. Noah couldn’t have known about God’s plan to destroy the earth with a flood. He couldn’t have known of the coming catastrophe. It wasn’t like he saw impending doom and “got right with God” so he would be saved. His character, action and habits were already in place, grounded in the way he lived his life everyday. Then when an impossible assignment came from the LORD, he was ready to work. And when the floodwaters rose, he was already safe, already saved. Whether the favor was merited or unmerited, Noah and his family experienced God’s deliverance in a very tangible way: God’s protection and provision, fruits of God’s favor.

Rocking K

I want that kind of steady walk with God… that whenever floodwaters rise, I’m where I need to be – beside my God. Or when the dove returns with a freshly picked olive leaf (Gen. 8:11), I rejoice in his provision. And in all the messy life that happens in between, God’s favor sustains me.

Somehow, when I envision God’s favor, I imagine God’s eyes … scanning, skimming the expanse of humanity, and then pausing over me… peering deep into my character and actions and habits… and smiling. Not because I have no faults, but because He sees Jesus over me; He sees Jesus dying in my place and is pleased.

…but Julie found favor in the eyes of the LORD… let it be, because of Jesus (Col. 1:10-14)

Redbuds

My redbud tree is blooming.

Redbud 1It does every year at this time. As the days grow longer, the grass greener, the wind warmer, I see magenta-pink little buds dotting the brittle gray branches. And I’m comforted by the rhythm of seasons.

The dramatic seasonal changes in Indiana have taught me much about living and dying … and coming back to life. Spring, especially, reveals that the grave is not the end.

And bare branches blooming have taught me that no matter how bleak the winter, life stirs just below the surface.

Redbud 2 The change in seasons marches with regularity, like a predictable timepiece — not enough to set a watch by, but surely enough to develop a certain level of expectation. And somehow all the players in nature follow the plan — the robins, the grass, the buds — they all follow the score like a finely-tuned orchestra poised to strike the first note.

Somehow, I’ve also come to expect that when I make plans that seem to line up with what God is doing in and around me, they should unfold predictably — like I expect them to. Evidently, God doesn’t have the same expectation.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Is. 40:28)

Until recently, I assumed my plans and dreams were God’s plans and dreams for me — only that God’s were bigger and better (of course) because he has a better perspective. I didn’t think God’s plans for me would include grief and disappointment and darkness. So much winter.

Turns out, God’s plans are completely different than mine. Unsearchable, unquantifiable, unpredictable. Turns out, he’s asking me to know that he is still good even in the middle of night.

Oh redbud tree, teach me to bloom when my bark is stark and stretched from harsh winter freezes. Teach me to respond to the Son even when everything around me is fragile and dormant. And redbud tree, teach me to dance in the music of life rather than become entangled in the cords of death.

You’ve shown me life like that, redbud. You and Jesus. Yes, Jesus has shown me how to live that way, too.

Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. (Heb. 12:2-3)

Redbud 3

Spring

I hear songbirds this morning, heralds of spring. The renewal of the earth is all around me… in budding trees, in chickadees, in green blades of grass pushing through dormant mats of brown.

 

And I’m forced to consider God’s promise to make all things new.

spring butterfly

Maybe God puts us in hard places, impossible places where the future is bleak, disease-ridden, and barren so he can show us what renewal really looks like.

One thing I know, our future depends on God being the incomparable, faithful, rejuvenating God he claims to be. Our hope is rooted in the character of God, who alone has the capacity to do something utterly new.

Lift up your eyes on high and see:

Who created these?

He who bring out their host and numbers them,

calling them all by name;

because he is great in strength,

mighty in power,

not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,

and speak, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord,

and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Have you not known, Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary,

and the young will fall exhausted;

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

they shall walk and not faint.

Is. 40:26-31

Tucked away for the future

A writer-friend of mine, challenged me to write a poem entitled, “What I would tell my granddaughter” based on things I know to be true. Well, yes, my granddaughter is still years and years away from making an entrance into my life, but still, I’m hopeful she’ll be here one day.

So, here’s where my thoughts landed.

If I should have a granddaughter… 

I would take her out in the morning early so we could catch the sun rising over the horizon shedding its rays of pinks and purples and yellows.

And I would tell her, “Sweetheart, the sun always comes up in the morning; and even if you can’t see it through the clouds or the haze or the tree-shaped shadows, it’s there ready to offer warmth and a start to a new day unwritten.”

Sand

I would take her on walks along a salty shore lined with shells and seaweed and driftwood; and we would pause to let the waves wash over our toes.  The outgoing water would pull the sand from under our feet and we would sink just a bit each time.

And I would tell her, “Baby, the ocean never stops coming and going, one with the other.  And even though it’s painful sometimes, life is filled with hellos and goodbyes, bringing heartache and healing, tears and tenderness, longing and laughter.”

 

I would take her to city parks crawling with children with different colored skin and hair and eyes, speaking languages strange to her ears.

And I would tell her, “Darlin’, a smile needs no translation and the best way to approach an unfamiliar situation is open-handed rather than close-fisted; and people who aren’t like you are often the best people to help you know you.”

 prayer candles

I would take her to houses of worship where Jesus is known and loved and spoken of; places where the Spirit moves freely and mysteriously, where people have “met their maker” and lived to tell about it.

And I would tell her, “Angel, you have a story to tell, a story worth telling.  It started the moment God thought of the very idea of you and placed you in your momma’s belly, and it’s still unfolding to point people around you, who know you and your story, to the God who lives to redeem.

 

I would take her to a mountaintop covered in sweet smelling firs, where the wind speaks to the trees who whisper back, “He’s here.  He sees.” And we would wait, hand in hand, blood warmth pulsing through our entangled fingers, for the moon to rise and take its place among the stars.

And I would sit with her quietly, knowing that some moments are better left unsaid, untainted by words that fail to bring understanding. And we would mull our thoughts in the cool moonlight.

Lessons from an itinerate preacher

A person can receive only what is given him from heaven.  John 3:28

John the Baptist fascinates me.  He’s the voice
of “one crying out in the wilderness.”  He preaches boldly, amasses a following, and lives on the fringes of acceptable society.  Most importantly, he’s content to play second fiddle.

John disciples aren’t quite as content.  They complain to him about Jesus’ crowd-stealing.  Jesus is baptizing, and they are baptizing, but more people are going to Jesus!

John responds with usual frankness. (This is my paraphrase.) “Quit your whining! I’m doing what God gave me to do. I’m not the Messiah.  God designed it this way!  I pointed Jesus out as the Lamb of God so that people would be drawn to him and follow him.  He must become greater than I’ll ever be!” (John 3:29-30)

John had received his orders and he carried them out flawlessly.  There’s no room for pointing fingers like little children fighting over who has a bigger pile of Legos.

Unfortunately, I relate all too easily to John’s disciples.  I find myself trapped, comparing myself to others who have extensive influence, or cool ideas, or poignant insights.  I wonder silently, “Why can’t that be mine?”

Often what others get seems more attractive than my lot.

So how does John look at Jesus and not compare?  How does he not veer from the mission given him by God?  Doesn’t it worry him that his crowd is dwindling and his influence waning?

I know that later in John’s story, when he’s sitting in Herod’s prison, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus if he is really The One.  Essentially, he questions his cousin, “Was it worth it?” Jesus responds by letting the evidence speak… lame walking, blind seeing, deaf hearing, dead living.

So with the cloud of doubt dissipated, John must have possessed enormous peace when he died at the hands of a pompous pretender.  John knew he had completed the assignment “given him from heaven.”

I want that single-mindedness.  I want the confidence of claiming what I have received from heaven.  I want to live my life in such a way so that when I die, I know it’s done.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, speaker, writer, woman, I want to be focused on the role God’s given me.  It’s more than a task.  It’s a life mission… and it’s unfolding, evolving, emerging… and revolving around Jesus.

May I see him more clearly, day by day.