It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. [Hebrews 11:7 (NLT)]
What if God came to Noah in 2018 with his ark building orders? As the rain started to fall, God would probably find Noah sitting on a small pile of wood. When asked about the absent animals and missing ark, Noah would reel off a litany of excuses. Boat building wasn’t allowed in his neighborhood so he had to go before the planning commission, zoning board, and city council for rezoning. The ark building permit couldn’t be issued until the blueprints were revised to allow for the required sprinkler system, emergency lighting, additional bathrooms, handicap accessibility, and a commercial kitchen. After the electric company insisted he pay for the raising of several power lines for the ark’s passage to the shore, the Army Corps of Engineers said he had to get a permit to dredge the channel once there. Noah’s explanation that both were unnecessary since the sea would be coming to him fell on deaf ears. FEMA said Noah couldn’t start his work until an environmental impact study was done on the proposed flood. Although he countered that he wasn’t proposing a flood but was just preparing for one, he had to wait until the study was finished. Because of a threat to the hazel dormouse and the great crested newt, there was a logging moratorium and he couldn’t get any wood. After getting in a dispute with the CDC and USDA about importing and exporting animals, PETA and the ASPCA claimed Noah was collecting wildlife against their will and that placing them in pens on a boat was cruel. Even though he was trying to save rather than harm them, an injunction now prevented him from gathering or possessing any animals. Noah added that he’d also had run-ins with the EPA about using tar to waterproof the ship and the Coast Guard about the number of passengers and animals that could come aboard. “Lord, I tried, but what you asked was impossible!” he cried.
Fortunately, the deluge happened 5,000 years ago and long before man’s invention of bureaucracy. If the real Noah had allowed circumstances to deter him from God’s task, mankind’s story would have ended in the sixth chapter of Genesis. In actuality, however, it probably wasn’t a whole lot easier for him than this fictional Noah. Gathering the materials, building the ark, explaining the project to his family, dealing with skeptical neighbors, supplying the ship, assembling and loading the animals—all posed tremendous challenges. Noah, however, is called a righteous man; described as blameless, he was a man who walked with God. Even in the 21st century, a man like that wouldn’t let any amount of red tape keep him from doing God’s will!
What my fictional Noah didn’t understand is that we are to fear God above all others—even indignant neighbors, government bureaucracy, and angry protesters. There is an urgency in our obedience to God that has been lost in today’s world of red tape and excuses. The real Noah did everything that God commanded him to do when God told him to do it and God expects us to do the same. When God assigns a task, He doesn’t abandon us. He equips, enables, provides and qualifies us and will give us all the resources, skills, and direction necessary to do His work. Let us remember that the Jordan River didn’t stop flowing for the Israelites until the priests’ feet had touched the water! If we are doing God’s will, He will hold back the water when we bravely step into it or provide us with a giant pair of scissors to cut through the red tape when we get tangled in it. All we have to do is trust Him enough to take that first step.
Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well. [Alexander MacLaren]