By faith, Noah, when warned of things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir to the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. (Heb. 11:7)
I bet the movie “Evan Almighty” gave many people a new perspective on the Noah story. That epic from Genesis 6-8 has become such a sanitized little tale – consider the people who decorate their baby nurseries with cartoonish drawings of tiny little “arks” overstuffed with pairs of smiling, cutesy animals. But there was nothing tiny or cutesy or safe and sanitized about the ark and the flood.
An analysis of the timing of things in the account in Genesis shows that it took several decades for Noah and his sons to build that monstrous shelter. Several decades when he had to explain to neighbors and gawkers what he was doing and why. Imagine the isolation. Imagine the humiliation. Imagine the doubts that would have to creep into your head.
I’m not sure I could have done that. And not just because I’m completely clueless in the woodworking arts. I don’t think I could have persevered in an activity that held me up to such derision. I’m far too much of a people-pleaser, too addicted to admiration. It’s one of my favorite idols, one I fight on a daily – maybe hourly – basis (at least on the good days when I truly make an effort). For Noah to do what he did, he could NOT have been a people-pleaser.
On the other hand . . . maybe he was. Maybe this humiliating long-term shop project with his boys was God’s curriculum for his life. Maybe every morning, he woke up saying, “Please, God – no. I don’t want to face them again. A day off today. Please. This is just too hard.” Maybe he spent those decades learning that God’s pleasure was enough for his soul. Maybe he didn’t start out as the fabulous saint we all imagine the Old Testament saints to be; maybe he got that way through a painful, daily struggle in his soul to believe – to have faith -- that God was enough.
Believing that Noah was just always greater than I am – that’s a lot easier, I suppose. But believing that God made Noah great through his submission in faith – that gives me hope.