There may not be a more iconic Bible story than Noah’s Ark found in Genesis 6-9. We teach it to kids at church or read it for bedtime stories. We know it forwards and backwards, breezing through the words and often forgetting the many lessons to be learned. 

But, there is much to be learned even as adults, so will you jump into the story with me anyway?

Having found favor with God, Noah was given the challenging task of building an ark that was very specific in size. He was to gather food, supplies, his family and many animals. He didn’t know how long it would take to build or even how long they would live inside the ark, yet he obeyed God.

Now, think about that with me. They were moving into the ark for 7 days before the rain began. 7 days of animal sounds, antics and smells. 7 days of feeding them, cleaning up after them, corralling them. By day 6 with no rain, I’d be wishing the animals would go back where they came from and not be my responsibility. I’d be wondering if maybe I’d heard God wrong and there really was no storm on the horizon. Why are we sitting in the boat with these animals and nothing is happening outside? 

But the rains did come. The great deep burst forth and the windows of heaven were opened. God closed the door on the ark with Noah, his family and all of the animals locked inside.

For 40 days the water increased. 

Then, the waters receded and they got off the boat.

Unfortunately for Noah and his family, the events of the next months were not that simple. For many weeks, they remained inside the ark with the smells and sounds of animals having only each other for company.

Finally, a breakthrough comes in Genesis 8 as God remembers Noah and sends a wind to blow over the earth, a wind that would subside the waters enough for the ark to land upon a mountain. After months of floating, the ark was set on solid ground.

Yet, the door to the ark remained firmly closed. Their time on the ark was not done. For three more months the waters would recede.

One day, a dove returned with an olive branch letting Noah know that there was dry land out there somewhere. 

Two MORE months would pass before Noah and his family would set foot on dry ground. 

Nearly a full year passed while this family lived on the ark!

What can we learn, I wonder, from this amazing, challenging story? If we view it with our adult eyes and put ourselves in the story, what are the takeaways?

Like Noah, you have been given a task. God has called you, prepared you, and stretched you for a purpose.

As you live out that purpose, you realize that you also face many unknowns.

In the unknowns, you might find yourself rushing, plowing, pushing and going before the time is right. You quickly lose sight of the task and drown in the overwhelming feelings of waiting and wondering.

Your dream job isn’t so dreamy.

Your new business has hit a few bumps in the road.

Your goals are taking much longer than expected.

Your patience is wearing thin.

Your timeline keeps getting adjusted.

Your expectations go unmet.

Your task is complicated, scary and unending.

How can we obey, wait and keep the faith in the midst of these kinds of challenges?

1. During each unknown, take a deep breath. Focus on one day at a time and the task that is in front of you.

Noah took one day at a time. He completed each task set before him with precision, obedience and patience.

He wasn’t pushing the door of the ark open even though he knew dry land was out there somewhere. He waited for God to say go.

2. Don’t be afraid to obey and trust God. Work with faith, no matter the challenges. 

Noah knew that God had asked him to walk an incredible journey of faith. Although the Bible doesn’t tell us specifically, we can imagine that he faced pushback, doubting, questions and challenges from all sides each step of the way. Yet, Noah obeyed, working with faith. He trusted God through it all. 

3. Learn to be thankful for the process during the process, watching for God to move in your unknowns and celebrating the milestones.

Noah had his whole family with him, supplies to sustain them and a mountain top to keep them from floating aimlessly. God was present through each part of Noah’s life. He instructed, provided, helped and spoke into each unknown Noah faced. They experienced the power, presence, and provision of God in ways no man had yet experienced. From beginning to end, we see God in every unknown.  And, when this process was completed, the first thing that Noah did as his family stepped off the ark was to build an altar to God. He marked the occasion by praising God. 

Just like Noah, we are tasked with something great. A mission(s) to accomplish here on earth. 

I don’t know what your something is. I don’t know what unknowns you face in this moment. But I do know that God is present in your circumstance, and you can apply the story of Noah to your many tasks and many unknowns. 

What have you learned, or how have you been challenged as you put yourself into this amazing faith story?