Go Out | Genesis 8:13-19
In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark. Genesis 8:13-19 | ESV
“Go out.” Now there’s something we seldom wait for. We like coming and going on our timetable, thank you very much. How many times have we scene it play out in the movies? Someone is told to wait – wait for the signal, wait for the order, stay put until…but no, the forlorn character can’t wait, but steps out, often fatally, putting everyone and everything in jeopardy. We squirm and shout out our brains at the screen, the passion intensified, no doubt, because deep down we know that’s what we do. Who wants to wait for it for 40 + 150 + 150 + 40 + 7 + (please, enough already! not another digit! you hear me!) + 7…seriously, who wants to wait for that? Especially during the final two sets of seven while Noah plays with his birds? I mean, think of it. Think of Noah’s unnamed wife. Look up “stir crazy” and you’ll see a picture of Noah’s wife with “unnamed” in the caption. Can you hear her voice? “Why don’t you just crawl out the port hole? For once in your life be a man! Stop your whirling and twirling and show some initiative. Do something constructive. Do something!” Maybe Noah didn’t need his wife to say this – perhaps she bore all of this delay and suspense sitting stoically in her recliner right beside his. Maybe not. And maybe this explains what (spoiler!) happened with Noah’s son Ham. Ham was just exposed too long in the box and he spoiled. But the fact is God shut them in. And God told them when it was time to leave. God shuts us in. God opens the door and says, “Go out.” We don’t like that. We don’t like that maddeningly frustrating counsel of James – it’s so un-American, so in-human: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:3 in the Message; thanks Eugene Peterson for making this annoying counsel even more annoying). We don’t like our faith-life forced into the open. And one challenge at a time from one direction, please. And we reserve the right to do all we see fit to get out of things prematurely and then pat our own backs at our remarkable initiative and “faith.” How many of our prayers for healing and recovering for ourselves or others are driven by our own myopic desires to escape the box we’ve been shut up in, as we lower our tresses, Rapunzel-like, through our port hole to make good our escape? And we shout “Just believe!” as we rappel down the side of the box. Oh, what faith it takes to wait for his “Go out” even though we risk our box becoming our tomb. Because that healing, liberating, life-giving word comes – even though we be a-molderin’ in the grave. In his time. At the right time. It comes. Wait for it.
How do we tell the difference between healthy initiative to improve a situation and unhealthy desire to get out of something prematurely? When most recently have you seen either or both of these at work in your life? What happened?
Lord, help me to hold on for your “Go out.” Deliver me from the assumptions that you mean for me to enjoy a carnival cruise ship all through life and the impatient desire that stirs within me to escape what feels like a box you’ve shut me up in. Quiet me just long enough to hear your “Go out.” Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.