Itís hard to write about things you donít understand. Itís even harder to write about things you think you understand but arenít comfortable knowing. This devotional is about time and blessings. They seem to be connected. Anyone who tells you that time is a friend hasnít told you the complete truth. Time can be brutal. It makes us older. It makes us wait. It can stress us out. But they also say time heals. And as much as I donít like Dr. Phil, I agree with him. Time heals nothing. Itís what we do with our time that heals us. At the beginning of last summer I lost my job. Without going into any of the circumstances, Iíve had nothing but time lately. My timeís been divided between reading, writing poetry and looking for work or other ways to sustain my present lifestyle. Itís also been spent being nervous, afraid and trying to stay faithful during times of uncertainty.
One of the things I had started doing as a result of being fired was begin a two year walkthrough of the Bible. I started with the book of Genesis. A year from now, if Iím consistent, I have no idea what Iíll be going through during the next two years, but, if I know God, the lessons Iím being taught will correspond with what Iím reading. I have to admit that the first week and a half I had no idea why I was reading Genesis. It just seemed like a bunch of stories to re-familiarize myself with the Old Testament. As I continued reading, my mind changed. The book of Genesis is filled with people who had to wait for their blessings. In Genesis the promises were largely about lineage. God promised many of the people in Genesis that their descendants would be numerous. If thereís one theme that is in every story of Genesis itís that God doesnít go back on his word. At the same time, thereís nothing in the Bible indicating a time frame on most of these blessings when they are first promised. Abraham had to wait a century to have a son. Sarah was 90. Both doubted and laughed. God pulled through.
1. Jacob stole his blessing from his brother and ended up wrestling an angel to be touched by God. In addition, he had to wait seven years and one week to marry the woman he loved. He even married a woman he didnít care for to be with her. There are other stories too. Joseph was sold into slavery for not being to wise about bragging and thrown in jail for not doing anything wrong. But later he was given leadership over Egypt.
Noahís blessing sort of fascinates me. Besides the fact that itís the subject of one of the funniest skits of all time, itís a story of amazing dedication. In Genesis chapter 6 we read that God was giving mankind 120 years to live before he destroyed the earth with floods. However, he found Noah ďinnocentĒ and spared he and his familiesí life. God asked Noah to build an ark. It is reasonable to assume that when God told Noah to create the ark, He knew it would take 120 years to build it. Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark. Which means that he was asked to build it when he was 480 years old. What kind of boat would take 120 years to built? Here were the instructions: Noah was asked to build the boat out of Cyprus wood. It was supposed to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. It would have an opening around the top of the boat that was 18 inches high from the edge of the roof down. Lastly, it would have three decks and the boat was held together using tar. He needed it that big to gather animals to repopulate the earth once the floods receded. But what was more important was that all nations would come from him after the flood was over. What a blessing!
There are things I find amazing about this story. There is no record in the Bible that Noah had any physical help in creating the Ark. Yet the Ark was possibly the size of at least 2 football fields. Where did he get all the tar? Where did he get all the wood? How did he build it on his own? How did he get all those animals in the Ark?
However, the most amazing part of the story is the reason that Noah didnít give up. Noah loved God and trusted that God would be true to his word and save his family. Even though heíd have to wait 120 years and 47 days to see the fulfillment of the promise. Imagine, if you can, being 480 years old and spending day after day in the hot sun building a boat out wood and hot tar. Iím only 36 years old and I hate taking out the trash. But Noah believed and received his blessing. God also made a promise to never flood the earth again and gave Noah a rainbow as a sign of that promise.
Itís too bad that God doesnít promise to never flood our personal worlds. Since Adam decided to eat the forbidden fruit, weíve had to bear the pain of disappointment and pain. RT Kendall calls them Ďthorns that are designed to announce Godís glory in our lives.í I think there are things to keep in mind about these floods. The first thing to remember is that we are not expected to like the floods. The Bible is full of grieving fathers, people with disabilities and others who desperately wish they could escape their situation. The majority of the Psalms sound like gut wrenching prayers that desperately need answers. You donít have to like what youíre going through. God doesnít expect you to. In the words of Mike Waranke, ďYou donít have to get cleaned up to take a bath.Ē
The second lesson is the hardest. There is a reason for the flood. You probably wonít figure it out while its raining and you may not figure it out until the storm is over. I have not had a steady job in over a year and Iím frustrated and feeling spiritually waterlogged and Iím starting to not like it. A friend of mine said something to me a while back that left me perplexed. She said Ďdonít resent the hard times.í As I mentioned before, I donít believe we are expected to like the flood. The real trick is not to let the flood harden your heart. This is what Iím working on.
The third lesson: God promised to bless you. What kind of things did he promise? To never leave or forsake you. That he rejoices over you with singing. That you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Lastly, he promised to complete you. Sometimes the only way something can be completed is by taking it apart to build it up again. Maybe thatís whatís happening. You may go through your pain kicking and screaming. You may feel growing pains even though youíre all grown up. But if I understand what Iíve been reading lately, life is preparation for the afterlife and pain may actually be a way of becoming complete. Noah may have had to wait 120 years to be set apart from annihilation, Jacob may have waited seven years for Godís promise, and you may have to wait a while for Godís promise to you . But for every story in Genesis that had a long lapse in time, there is a blessing that was worth the wait. In the meantime, pray for patience and a strong heart. You may need it.