“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
His attempt alone ranks Noah pretty high on my respect list.
Sunday school stories and children’s picture books about Noah’s Ark have muddled my mind over the years, so I had to work hard to clear my head of bunnies and giraffes, walking two by two, while I read through Genesis, Chapters 7-9.
What Noah accomplished in obedience and action is simply unbelievable, but you’ll never convince me that he didn’t doubt.
I’ll get to evidence of that in a minute. First we must pause and consider the scene.
How many times have you had a crazy thought? Whether that idea was from God or not isn’t the point. The question is whether or not you acted on what could have been prompted by the Holy Spirit. I believe, universally, we get ideas (that might seem crazy) on a regular basis. Few follow through, and some who act, shouldn’t. The idea could have been plain stupid, or outright immoral. But the average person thinks this thought instead…
What would everyone think? Regardless of whether I fail or succeed, I’ll look like a freak in the process!
So we don’t act. We play it safe and watch the few who actually attempt.
Noah would have never build, much less boarded the ark, if he considered humankind more than God. I just sympathize with him because he had to feel like a crackpot on bad days. He had to question and wonder if it really had been God instructing him, or he was just nuts.
What’s been missing in most Noah’s Ark summaries for me is a personality. And not just of Noah, but God Himself. It’s rather easy to think of God as cruel when we learn He wants to wipe away all humankind, but we miss that He was grieved and in pain (Genesis 6:6). We miss that even in his Holiness, He spared a family (Genesis 7:1), made a way for future generations (Genesis 9:1), and even promised never to destroy the earth like that again (Genesis 8:21). God did what He did, but He was full of agony in the process, because love grieves when others hurt.
What comforted Him was the fragrant offering of Noah’s sacrifice.
And I’m not just referring to all the clean animals and birds he burnt on an alter once they were on dry land (Genesis 8:20). Noah’s fight against self-doubt and his attempt at the absurd was part of his fragrant offering. The fact that he followed through is downright impressive.
I’ve had to seriously consider my own offering at the start of this new year and leading up to Lent.
What sacrifices am I making?
Is good winning out by attempting something bigger than myself, or is doubt acting the traitor in my life?
I pushed hard in 2014. The book happened. I’m speechless some days, dancing others, but, honestly, feeling post traumatic stress disorder many days. I’m working, while also waiting to see the fruit of that labor after being cooped up in the boat for a long time.
Doubts invade. I feel like a crackpot on bad days.
When we let self-doubt win, we shrink. We blend into a crowd. We build nothing.
Why do I believe Noah doubted?
He got drunk.
But before I address the vineyard, who wouldn’t doubt? The dude was asked to build a massive boat for an event that had never happened before!!! This wasn’t Seattle and they didn’t know rain.
And, really, ALL the animals?
What about the family. Bring them aboard? Surely they must have pitched him crap.
Then there are those left on land? Noah and his family were asked to walk up the ramp and make residence an entire week before the rain came. Outside, everyone else must have heckled while Noah nervously searched the sky for the first drop.
What about the 378 days floating? One year and ten days! No doubt? So unlikely! This was hugely tragic! Noah must have felt guilt being spared, along with his family. The stress level. Cabin fever. Sickness. Crazed emotions. Lack of fresh air. Animal waste. Sweat. Saliva.
I would get drunk too.
In fact, post-book launch, I kind of did. What have I done? What will people think? Will this sell? Granted, I was not staggering around, slurring words drunk, and certainly nowhere near needing my children to cover me in a garment (Genesis 9: 20-23), but my thirst increased from the stress and completion of a decade long call from God.
This is something we don’t talk about, and in a round about way, where this post on Noah is going…
You don’t have to be an alcoholic to have a drinking problem.
I can let bottles of mixed reds lie in the rack for weeks, but when they shorten to days, and ounces lengthen to another glass, there’s a problem.
I know about alcoholics, there’s just never any talk about a space in time where people live in thirst between casual drinker and danger.
I believe I came face to face with this space and with that thirst. Truthfully, many middle-class American women are in this category with no awareness. Wine is hip and fancy for us Chicks in 2015. I can have wine as easily and casually as I can grab a cup of coffee.
I’m not trying to be a joy killer, but, along with wheat and sugar, I’ve cut the alcohol for Lent. This is my fragrant offering. Spilled out and poured empty.
I’ve learned some things while my focus clears:
1) Sin managers want to judge me, but being a Christ follower is about vertical godly sorrow, followed by the celebration of new starts and fresh beginnings.
2) Self-doubt wants to sabotage me, but I’ve never been better! Not because I got it all right, but because grace is actually active in my life. I know my position in Jesus. Through awareness, repentance and sacrificial change, my character is stronger. The Christian life is not about perfection, it is about awareness. Need–daily. It’s about how we get up once we fall down. We all will in some way. All that matters is what we do when our butt’s on the ground.
3) Secrets want to isolate us, but the Bible reveals that we are never alone. Noah lived, breathed, and had a personality. He pleased God, walked with God, and stumbled (literally), too.
Where are you? Is God longing for a fragrant offering?
I think the key to giving up something is directly related to that which we’d rather not. It’s easy to pick the easier thing, but God wants to smell the fragrance of the difficult and costly. Whatever that might be for you, please know you’re not alone. There’s someone in the Bible who has gone through the exact same thing, as well as someone living close to you. The worst action to take is to bury your head and continue on in denial.
We are often blind to our own blindness.
In closing, may I encourage you to seek help if this subject matter is bigger than what I’ve addressed. Severe and seriously dangerous alcoholism has affected my extended family in a devastating way. This is not something to mess around with. I also hope that this post makes those who have experienced thirst in a greater way, recognize that a problem could be looming. Be on guard. Take action. Consider a fragrant offering. He’s worth it. You’re worth it. Finally, one of the best resources I know of on the subject is, Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk, by Heather Kopp. Excellent read and very eye-opening!
Kim’s signature closing:
Welcome new readers, and those well loved! My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus real. He is not just a positive thought, a model to follow, or a comfortable space to hear love. He is life. Adventure. He can be the very air you breathe with just one decision. I never knew Him until I ended up sitting on a dirty field in India. He met me there, and that gripping tale of redemption is found in my life’s work: The Chance to Choose: Become Who You Were Meant to Be One Choice At a Time. I’d love all my reader’s to know the story. It is there where you’ll understand me, and the One I serve, best. Click on printed/signed copy, or Kindle version (also available on Nook and Apple iBook) to purchase, and if you need more, check out the book trailer below:
Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)