Essays on Faith – Noah

I like to think that I’m totally good with believing the entirety of the Bible. It’s the living and active, inspired Word of God and all, but then I read stories like Noah’s over again and I’m challenged so much more deeply than I thought possible. It’s another strange one. Yet, I must trust all of the Word if I trust any of it.

If we think the world right now is broken and scary, imagine the darkest time in the history of mankind where every thought and action was bent with selfishness, malice, and deceit. Imagine living in war-torn slums filled with violence and murder and openly witnessing every horrifying, disturbing practice under the sun. There was no peace. There was no restful slumber. There was no justice, no mercy. All was fear and retaliation. All was desperate aggression and wantonness. It didn’t peter out at the edge of a bad neighborhood or on the way up the societal ladder. All was smothering panic and dangerous reality.

This is the world Noah lived in. This is the backdrop of his dogged obedience. This is the setting during which God told him to build a cruise liner when he had only ever seen a canoe. “Noah did this; he did all that the Lord had commanded him.” (Gen 6:22) For 120 years he toiled in backbreaking diligence to a directive that must have seemed insane. It didn’t even rain in that pre-flood era of time! How could the entire world flood?

Did he ever doubt? Did he ever question God? I have no idea how he knew what God was telling him because it seems straight up utterly and completely crazy. We aren’t afforded any more details. But we are told again, “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.” (Gen 7:5).

Faith = obedience to God. Can it be that simple? A long obedience in the same direction? A low trajectory towards a distant goal? Noah did what God told him. And it took him 120 years to do it. That’s a long time of faithfulness. That’s a long time of going against the grain. That’s a long time of being alone and trusting that God has a purpose and a plan beyond what he could see or understand. I have a hard time with a few days of trusting God with no tangible results to justify.

But God has not called us to anything more nor less drastic. By faith, Noah did what God directed. In that, my life calling is not so different. Faith equals obedience. Faith spells itself out in daily showing up and putting in the work God has set before me. There is no shortcut or FastTrack. Faith shows up in only long obedience and a constant turning towards Him.

By faith, out of reverent fear of God, Noah constructed an ark. By faith, this obedience saved his household. By faith, he lived and breathed obedience in a thousand daily moments over thousands and thousands of days. By faith, those long unwritten moments gained him righteousness and teach us still. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)

 

Writer Bio:

Amber Sperlich attends Mitchell Wesleyan Church where she is a part of the communications team. She writes to process her personal thoughts and meditations on the MWC messages and the text preached each week, and we thought we’d share some of them with you.

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Essays on Faith – Enoch

First, Abel simply gave God his first, best offering and now Enoch’s entry only mentions that he walked with God. Why Enoch? Why single him out? Like the ancestors before and the sons that follow we know his lineage and how long he lived. That’s pretty much it. Four verses in Genesis 5 don’t shed a wealth of background about his life.
The chapter drones through pedigrees. The line of Cain: lived, fathered, died. At seven generations, the line decays into destruction and brokenness with Lamech’s arrogant defiance of God. The line of Seth: lived, fathered, died. But at seven generations, the line reaches full bloom in Enoch’s walk with God. He lived, he fathered, he did not see death. Still, the lack of context wouldn’t exactly make it my first choice for weaving a convincing story or making a firm point.
​Enoch didn’t die. God took him away. Impossible. Strange. Outrageous. Why am I more apt to discount the validity of the good in this story than the wickedness? Why is it harder to believe that God took Enoch without dying after less than half of a lifetime of his contemporaries than it is to grasp that Lamech stirred up new depths of sin with polygamy and murder and pride that had not previously existed in the world? Do I have more faith in man’s depravity than in God’s mercy and goodness?
​In the long recitation of rote genealogy –living, fathering, dying – the words surrounding Enoch’s life jump out with jarring distinction from the rest of his family tree. “Enoch walked with God…” (Gen 5:22). In this second illustration from the Hall of Fame of Faith we see: faith = walking with God. God was so delighted in this faithful, daily communion that he went ahead and took Enoch from life.
​Call me crazy, but there’s got to be more to it than that, right? Aren’t there some examples from Enoch’s life from which I can glean? Didn’t he drop some wisdom nuggets I can put up on my mirror and memorize? But Genesis 5 only tells us that while everyone else was busy with the trivialities of living, Enoch walked with God.
​“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3) When you walk with someone you are in agreement with them. Your goals align for that moment. Your tasks are in tandem. And the longer this goes on the more intimacy it creates. Prolonged intimacy births love.
​Life is so funny, isn’t it? I get so worried and agonize over doing the “right” thing as if life is a giant multiple choice test and each question has only one right answer. I still feel like my salvation and justification are pass/fail and it depends entirely on my ability to perform.
​But what is faith if it isn’t just a daily walk in step with the Father? How do we please God if not by constantly leaning towards him and walking through our life along with him? And not only believing in him, but with action propelling us onward. Jesus walked with his disciples after he called them to him. He taught them as they walked and shared that daily life.
​Our culture celebrates either slothful stagnation or whirlwind weariness. In the former, we atrophy with disuse and what we once may have had we find gone. In the latter, achievement doesn’t fulfill but only leads to higher and further goals, leaving us unable to find true contentment in the moment.
​Oftentimes, the reality of faith is just a daily realignment and search for truth, a deliberate attentiveness to the Spirit speaking through his Word. Not a sprint, not a fall, not a picnic in the park. A walk; sustained and consistent movement. A constant communion.
​“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic 6:8).​​

Writer Bio:

Amber Sperlich attends Mitchell Wesleyan Church where she is a part of the communications team. She writes to process her personal thoughts and meditations on the MWC messages and the text preached each week, and we thought we’d share some of them with you.