Sunday, March 31, 2013

Room in the Boat: Noah's Ark

This morning, June and I got up at 4:45am to get ready for sunrise service at the Lincoln Memorial. This is no easy feat. I'm a morning person, but I'm not a 4:45 in the morning person. I was grumpy, it was cold, but once I was out there I was moved by the thousands of people gathered to celebrate the risen Christ. There were thousands of people there celebrating the new covenant...and I thought about how it was in stark contrast to what happened with Noah. God made a covenant with Noah, and it ended with 8 people in a boat. Eight!

The Flood is an interesting story because it's always compared to now: destruction is coming; are you prepared? We focus a lot on the similarities; but I think the grace of God can be found in the differences: (links for Genesis 6:5-8 and Romans 5:6-8; Genesis 6:18 and John 3:16-17 in table)

I used to think that Noah was out their preaching his little heart out for 100 years warning people about the flood. But when God said "I will wipe them from the face of the earth" that was it. Judgment had been passed, but one found favor: Noah. The plan of salvation was given to Noah in the form of a blueprint for a big boat (see Genesis 6:14-16). But then the plan of salvation was limited.

As noted in the table, that boat was for Noah and his family alone. So warning them would be cruel, right? Whether he preached or not, it didn't take because Jesus said the people were completely oblivious:

For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. Matthew 24:38-39

However, now the plan of salvation is wide open (see John 3:16-17), which is why we are charged to,

go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. 
Matthew 28:19 - 20 

The messed up thing is...the oblivious part? That's where things are the same! They didn't know about the flood. Jesus said they didn't know! And people won't know about Jesus or His return:

That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Matthew 24:40 - 41

That is the old-time version of: two accountants will be working in an office typing in excel spreadsheets; one will be taken and the other left. Why does this happen? Do you mean to tell me that the saved accountant never warned the other accountant? Don't be deceived, we have to preach the gospel, but know that the life you live for Christ in obedience to your faith also condemns people.

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 
Hebrews 11:7 

Noah condemned the world? Just by building the ark? Noah's faith causes him to fearfully obey. And that obedience looked like the dumbest thing in the world. He was building a massive ark on dry land. There wasn't even a nearby ocean! Noah's life of faith was his testimony to the world. Likewise, your life is your testimony. People see you fearfully obeying God (by faith of course). And your obedience looks like the dumbest thing in the world. "Jesus is a myth", "There is no's all a fairtytale." All those people have seen and heard, and yet...they don't know. Not at all prepared for a flood.

They see, but don't see. But thanks be to Jesus that the scope of salvation isn't still limited. Blind in the days of Noah was a death sentence. But Jesus came healing the blind. If you don't see, but you think there might be something it. Find it. Know it...because this time, there's room in the boat. 

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walking with God

I'm on staycation this week. I felt that I needed to take some time to revive my spirits which were weakened during the busy work season. Thought I'd have lunch with friends, clean my house, catch up on kdrama, get in a few good runs, go to yoga everyday...and that everything would be great.

It has sucked majorly. And today, I was feeling particularly wretched, and thought "I should pray" but instead I went for a run, thinking a good run would make me feel better. Clearly, I thought: run > prayer.

So God smote me.

Okay, okay. I don't know if God smote me for sure, but that definitely felt like what was happening. I was about 2.7 miles out when my legs were cramping, my stomach was cramping, and I had insane nausea. By far, the worst run ever. I saw other people in the park playing (of all things) lacrosse, and I thought: if I pretend to pass out right here, will they save me? I was contemplating all manner of rescues when I just crouched down on the side of the road and started doing what I should have done before I even left the house: praying. Praying that I make it home. Praying that the pain subsides. And it did. I made it home. And as soon as I got into the house: prayer.

But the real lesson was in the choice I'd made. And how I've made that choice a lot recently.  I'll think that there is something that will be more rewarding than relationship with God. Why do I say that? Because prayer is relationship with God and prayer has been difficult lately. If something is going wrong in my life, I'm on gchat or I'm on the phone talking to someone who I think needs to hear my cry, asking them to pray for me. Maybe God will hear them because I can't get a prayer through. If I get depressed I start thinking about what I need to busy myself with; I start thinking about where I should go, and what I should do...when my first stop should be on my knees. But my prayers had become so painful, that I avoided it, because I was starting to doubt the benefit in it.

But not Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. - Hebrews 11:5-6

Sometimes I don't believe in the benefit of seeking God. Which means sometimes something is WRONG with my faith. Which means sometimes I'm displeasing. I'm sometimey.

Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.  Genesis 5:21-24

This is all I have on Enoch. This! It's almost nothing. So little that I thought to skip Enoch. But it's just enough for me see Enoch got to a point where he was constant. Where his faith in the Lord was unwavering. The scripture says "then", which I take to mean that for 65 years, Enoch was like me. He was sometimey. But "Then Enoch walked with God 300 years." Three hundred years he faithfully walked with God. You've gone on walks with people before. Same pace. Same direction. If you stop to tie your shoes, the other person waits. It is relationship in motion. Enoch was in step with God. He didn't walk away, he didn't seek other sources of "fix it" because he believed that God is a rewarder. He understood the benefit of walking with God as opposed to walking alone, or walking with someone else. 300 relapse. And I'm not saying he didn't do anything wrong. I can't know that (I only have 3 sentences). I'm saying that he had 300 years of unbroken faith. 

Actively believing and trusting God is so huge. Enoch did it and got something that wasn't even yet promised. Enoch never died. In Genesis! At the beginning of the book we find the precursors to the end:

"...and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:26

I might not know anything about Enoch, but I know this: He believed in things that Jesus implores his disciples to believe in. And in so doing...he was pleasing. This would be debilitating for me, because my first thought is: my faith is raggedy. But God gives each man a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) and scripture says we go from "faith to faith" (Romans 1:17). I like to think of it like levels and stages in a video game, where I fall off the cliff and it makes that little tragic sound. But then I play again and I jump over that cliff and keep going. Faith Level 1. Then I get eaten by a plant. LOL. But for real, then I kill that plant, and I keep going. Level 2. And I keep going.

And boom, 300 years have passed.