So here stands Noah. He’s been frustrated at the apathy of his neighbors, incensed at their sinfulness, and dumbfounded at their lack of love for God. Look around: no one else is serving God. He had his church service every week, and who came? Just his family. The world was a mess. No one was doing the right thing; perhaps he should quit trying. I mean, the world is so wicked, what difference is one good family going to do?
Then God shows up, and Noah thinks everything is going to be ok. God proceeds to confirm his worst suspicions about the state of the world, and shared His plan to destroy all of the wicked people on the earth. But Noah’s whole family will be saved. Awesome fairy tale ending, everything’s happily ever after, end of the story. Right?
Nope. So Noah is standing there, thinking that all of the other people in the world are wicked, and won’t listen to him teaching … and here God tells him to build a boat. A huge boat. God doesn’t condemn Noah for not winning his neighbors to the Lord, and He doesn’t tell him he’s not doing a good job being a Christian. Nope. He just tells him to build this boat. Why in the world, when nothing in the world is going right, would God want him to build a boat?
That’s a huge task. A distraction, perhaps, from telling his neighbors about God. I mean, he could read his Bible more if he didn’t build an ark. Or he could sing songs about God. But no. God said, build a boat.
Ok, let’s build. For 120 years. Build, and build, and build. Surely folks will listen, they’ll see faith in action and think, man, I’ve got to have what Noah has. Nope. They weren’t interested. In fact, they were having the time of their lives, while the only Godly people on the planet were breaking their backs building. a. ship.
Not building a church. Not preaching. Building a ship.
And it’s not like Noah was a professional ship builder. We don’t know what his previous job was, but I sure don’t think he had a Ph.D. in ship building. And here God tells him to build a ship. Not any old ship, a huge ship to keep his whole family and a zoo alive.
You know what the beautiful thing is? He did it. Here’s this looming task that seemed pointless, something too big to handle. And Noah just gets right to the job. He doesn’t ask God for confirmation, he doesn’t beg God for a different job, and he doesn’t sit down and feel discouraged about his ministry. He. Just. Builds. the. Ship.
You know, God’s work might not always make sense to us. It might seem like nothing’s going on, or that God’s giving us busywork. It might seem that the challenge is too great, the price to big, the mountain too high, the army too strong, the country too foreign, the sacrifice too much. It might seem pointless. No one is listening, nothing’s changing, and you might as well throw in the towel. God must think you’re a bad Christian for not leading your neighbors to the Lord; how dare you think you could take on this big challenge?
Nope. That’s not what God said. God has a huge job for each of us, something we’ll look back on in the future and find amazing that God helped us to do it. But that will never happen if we don’t take the first step, say “Yes, Sir”, and step forward to duty. Like Noah did.
God’s not grading us on metrics, statistics, numbers. He’s not looking at our conversion rate, our prayer log, our Bible’s condition. He’s judging us on our heart, and what we’re doing for Him. He’s got a great big job out there for each and every one of us, and he’s waiting for us to take it on.
The world may be a mess. Your church may never have 1,000 members. Your Sunday School students might quit. But don’t give up. God’s got something greater for you. And if He tells you to build a ship, by all means, get to it. You and you only can make the difference God wants you to make in the world, and just because you don’t think what you’re doing right now is successful doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want you to take on something greater.
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9