This is the message given in the Wheatland Parish Sunday, June 29. 2014. The Bible verses used are Genesis 6:14-16, 7:1-4. 7-17.
We’re in the third week of our sermon series on Noah. We looked at God telling Noah to build the ark, and Noah having the faith to believe and trust God. We looked at God going into detail about exactly how the ark was to be built. So what’s next?
Well, next Noah actually has to build the darn thing. I mean, can you imagine being Noah? God tells you to build this boat, this ark, and you believe that it really is God telling you to do it. But how? How are you supposed to do it?
I mean, this is not a little raft we’re talking about. This is one great big honking boat. We don’t even know if Noah had any skills in boat-building. All we’re really told about Noah is that he was a man of the soil, a farmer. Now, a lot of farmers do have mechanical and carpentry skills, but still, to build a great big boat like this? Big enough for at least two of every animal, every bird, everything?
And even if Noah had the skills, where was he going to get the wood? It’s not like he could just run down to the local lumberyard and get it. I don’t think they had a Menard’s back then. And he needed nails or something to hold it together. He needed to get pitch to coat it and seal it.
And where was Noah going to get all this food? I mean, he had to have enough food for himself, for his family, for all of these animals, all of these birds, everything. I don’t think Walmart would’ve had all that stuff. And after he got it, Noah had to figure out a way that it would not spoil before it was needed. And, as far as we can tell, Noah did not know just how much food he would need. God said it would rain for forty days and forty nights, but that did not mean they’d be able to just get off the ark then. Noah did not know how long it would be before the flood waters went down.
And in fact, we’re told that it was a lot more than forty days. It was one hundred fifty days before the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. And it was two and a half more months before the tops of the mountains actually became visible. And it was months after that before they could actually get off the ark. And it was still longer before they could’ve actually planted crops and found food. We’re talking about at least a year’s worth of food Noah would’ve had to have on the ark.
And you know what else? Noah only got one chance to get this right. I mean, if the ark sprung a leak, or if Noah did not have enough food, or if something else went wrong, there was going to be nothing Noah could do about it. He had to get it right the first time, because if he did not, he was not going to get a second chance.
The point is that what Noah was being asked to do here was an incredible undertaking. We’re heard the story so often that a lot of times we don’t think about that. And the Bible really does not make much of it, either. God tells Noah to do all this stuff and the Bible just says, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”
But there was an incredible amount of work Noah had to do. And we don’t know how much of it he had to do by himself. He had three sons, so maybe they helped him. We don’t know if he had anyone working for him. I suppose he could have. But still, think of it.
Noah must have felt overwhelmed by what he was being asked to do. Think of how long it must’ve taken for Noah to get this ark built. Day after day after day, working on this big boat. Not being able to work on it every day, because he presumably still had to get his farm work done. If he did not do it, then his sons would’ve had to, so they would not have been able to help him. Everyone else wondering what in the world he was doing. Wondering if old Noah had finally lost it, if he’d gone goofy or something. Making fun of him behind his back, or maybe even to his face.
Even Noah’s wife and kids may have thought he was crazy. After all, God had not spoken to them. God had not told them Noah was supposed to build an ark. If I told you I’d heard the voice of God telling me to build a huge boat and put all the animals and birds and reptiles on it, what would you think? You’d think I’d gone nuts, right? Even Wanda’d probably think I’d gone nuts. This would sound like the craziest think you’d ever heard of.
So here’s the point. We know that we are supposed to serve God. But most of us, myself included, say that without really thinking about it too much. We don’t really expect God to ask too much of us. We don’t expect God to ask us to do anything that’s really hard, or that would take a really long time. We don’t expect God to ask us to make any significant changes in our lifestyle. We’re willing to serve God, but we think--and again, I include myself it this--we think God won’t ask us to do anything that would require any great sacrifice on our part. In fact, a lot of times, what we do is serve God in our spare time, in the time we’ve got left after we’ve done all the “important” things we have to do.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I am not saying we’re all hypocrites. I am not saying that we don’t believe in God or that we’re not sincere in our faith. What I’m saying is that most of us don’t really think about how much serving God could change our lives. We don’t think about what it would actually mean for ourselves and our families if we truly dedicated our lives to God. We don’t think about how much we would need to change if we truly tried to serve God with everything we do.
And Noah may not have thought much about that, either. He may have just been living his life, doing his best, trying to be a good guy, growing his crops, raising his family, helping his neighbors when he could. He may have thought he was just about as committed to God as he needed to be. He may have thought he was doing okay.
And then, out of nowhere, here comes God. And God asks Noah to do something really, really hard. It was something that did not make a whole lot of sense to Noah, probably. And even if Noah understood it, it was something that seemed completely overwhelming to him. It was something that was going to turn Noah’s nice, simple farming life upside down.
That’s what God does. And you never know when God may ask it of you. And I never know when God may ask it of me. You and I may be living our lives, doing our best, trying to be good people, trying to help our neighbors when we can. We probably figure we’re about as committed to God as we need to be. We figure we’re doing okay.
And then, out of nowhere, here comes God. And God may ask us to do something really, really hard. God may ask us to do something that does not make a whole lot of sense to us. And what God’s asking us to do may seem completely overwhelming. And it may be something that will turn our nice, simple lives upside down.
That’s what God did to Noah. And Noah said--okay. Okay, I’ll do it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I don’t know where I’m going to get all the material I need. I don’t know who, if anyone, I can get to help me. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me. But okay. I’ll do it. I’ll do it, God, because I know who you are. And I know that if you’re telling me to do this, then you’ll help me find a way.
So what about you? And what about me? What are we going to say? And don’t think God would never choose you for something like this. I’m sure Noah never thought God would choose him for something like this. Noah was just this guy, you know? It does not matter if you think you’re a common, ordinary person. Noah was a common, ordinary person, too. If God had not chosen Noah, we’d have never heard of him. God often chooses common, ordinary people. People like you. And people like me.
And God often chooses common, ordinary churches, too. God chooses churches to do things that are really, really hard sometimes. And sometimes they don’t make a lot of sense. And sometimes they’re overwhelming. And sometimes, God asks us to do something that may turn our nice, church upside down, too. If God does that, what are we going to say?
Noah said okay. I’ll do it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. It seems overwhelming to me. It does not make much sense to me. But I’ll do it. I’ll do it, because I know who you are, God, and I trust you.
What are we going to say?