In Genesis 6, we see the story of Noah unfold. And as you read further, God gives Noah strict instructions to build an ark, as well as, the instruction to take his family and a certain number of clean and unclean animals with him on the ark. And thanks to Sunday school, we probably all know that God told him to do this because He was going to send rain for 40 days and 40 nights. This is would result in what we refer to as The Great Flood. Now, when I had previously discussed the story of Noah, or at least what I was taught, was that it was a great story of faith in God. I mean, imagine what everyone must have thought of Noah when he was building the ark. Especially since he was the only one that knew about the flood that was to come. It was just always framed as an incredible story about God’s chosen who would, ultimately, be used to fulfil God’s plan and affect generations to come.
A few weeks ago, while reading the story of Noah again, I couldn’t help but notice the timeline in which the fulfillment of God’s promise to Noah takes place. Noah was a few days into his 600th year when the flood began. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. But only in the second month of Noah’s 601st year, did God give Noah the instruction to finally come out of the ark and go forth and abound on the earth. God hadn’t disclosed this waiting period to Noah. In fact, God remembers Noah, his family and every living thing on the ark somewhere between that year, but only a year after the flood begins does God finally speak to him.
I mean, I understand the earth needed to dry before they could disembark, but I’m pretty sure God could have just made provisions for the them to immediately leave the ark. Why did Noah have to wait a year to finally be able to live in the fulfillment of the promise of God? And God said to me, “There’s much to be done in the waiting. Do not get caught up in the excitement of Me calling you to something. And even though the work done in the waiting may not be as glamorous, fun, or as straight forward as ‘just having faith’, it’s necessary. Many may not see what happens inside your ark, but it does not mean you get to neglect it either.”
When I moved back to Johannesburg and moved in with my older sister this year, God had put family on my heart. That there was work to begin while I prepared for Sydney in July. I wasn’t too sure what, how or why, but I knew God had something up his sleeve. Now, I haven’t been the very closest with my family. Even more so, now that I decided to leave Stellenbosch and go study at Hillsong College. But, so much had happened in my life that my walls were pretty high up when it came to family. I had established a rather transactional relationship with my family and I was okay with that. No one at varsity or Church really knew much about my family background, and I was pretty comfortable with keeping them separate because “They just don’t understand me as a person, so they definitely won’t understand what God is doing in my life”. So even though I was willing to let God do a work in that regard, at the back of my mind I still had my doubts so my defenses were still up.
But even with my walls up, I envisioned that everything with family would happen so easily. I thought, since God’s hand was over everything, everyone would be all smiles in no time. But man, oh man… That is definitely not what it looked like. It was actually quite discouraging the way things were going. I became less eager. But I saw how the more I avoided listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the more things were not working out. Even with my plans for Sydney. God would constantly put me in situations where I would have to rely on my family. Where I’d have to humble myself and listen. Where I had to ask my sister, who is my financial adviser, for signed documents to prove I had savings. My VISA application depended on it. But despite His efforts, I still wasn’t very keen to do the work of actually building bridges. Actually healing. Actually engaging. Actually confronting my reality. I was okay to ask for help under the banner of “I know you’re annoyed with me but I had no choice. Only you can help”.
About a week ago, my sister sat me down and said our living arrangements weren’t working. She explained that I had the choice to move out or stay with them, but both options had some ‘conditions’ attached . Either way, I’d have to actually come to the table, engage and just “do the labour” as my sister always puts it. More so if I actually chose to still stay with them. I felt rather hurt. I was upset. I mean, I had stayed out of everyone’s way. I had tried my best not to make things worse than they already were. It seemed easier to move out, and just be out of everyone’s hair. It seemed easier to just throw in the towel. I mean, I moved to Johannesburg. I was closer to family. I was here. I had messaged. I had tried. And it just seemed like my few attempts had brought everyone, including myself, nothing but more hurt and disappointment. Where was this God that had spoke of a new hope before I moved here?
The next day, I remember sitting on my bed feeling like that 14 year old girl again. The one who felt her world crumble when she had to move out of her father’s home. This wouldn’t be the very first time I left home. It was all a very familiar feeling. Almost comforting, even. But I remember feeling very rebuked in that moment. Remembering the story of Noah. Now, I do not know Noah’s intimate life story, but imagine being in an ark for a year with your family and live animals. Imagine how much the family may have fought. Imagine the discomfort. Imagine how much their bond may have been tested. Their character. A lot probably happened in that ark. A lot that we did not get to see. And if any of them ever felt that they had had enough, I’m pretty sure they could have left the ark straight after the flood. It may not have resulted in their death, like everyone else, but at least they wouldn’t be in one another’s space. The only difficulty may have been that the land would have been wet and they wouldn’t have been able to plant anything or even make a home anywhere. They probably wouldn’t have been able to abound in the conditions and in the way God had desired for them.
I now had the choice to stay in my ark, or live out my calling (not in it’s fullness) while neglecting the work to be done. Pastor Mike Todd often says ‘Partial obedience, is still disobedience’ and I believe disobedience has consequences. Yes, there is grace. And yes, God loves us and all that good stuff. But sometimes, we delay our own promises because we refuse to be obedient to what God tells us.
So I decided to stay with my sister. I decided to fight. I decided to get better. I decided to work at allowing God to heal me, so that I would stop hurting my family. So that I could be a better sister, daughter, friend. Because hurting people, really do hurt people. Whether intentionally or not. I decided to start.
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” – There is often quite a wait between what He says and when it manifests. And sometimes, like with Noah, He may not say anything until the time it does. But His word still stands. His promise still stands. Maybe things aren’t “working out” because we refuse to be obidient to the instructions we were given in the waiting.
On Tuesday, 18 June I applied for my VISA. That same evening, I had the conversation with my sister.
On Wednesday, 19 June I decided I would commit to doing the labour to heal.
On Tuesday, 25 June, I began therapy. That same afternoon, I was granted my VISA.
Maybe Noah was in the ark for an entire year because God wanted Noah to tend to issues that may hinder him from stepping into the fullness of God’s plans.
Maybe sometimes, God doesn’t move until we do.