Genesis 6:19; 7:17, 24, “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.” …The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth… And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.
There was every kind of animal on the ark: peacocks, parrots, wolves, snakes, lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), large cats, dinosaurs… Imagine the noise. Imagine the smell… It couldn’t have been all that pleasant to be where Noah was—on an enormous ark with a plethora of animals bunched together smelling up the entire place. It also couldn’t have been easy to sleep. Yet Noah had at least the satisfaction of obeying and trusting God. Because of Him, he survived the world’s largest flood (literally). So the sense of satisfaction and trust he had in the Lord probably made all the sounds and smells worth it.
Where are you in life right now? Are you content? Are you unhappy? I have found that happiness is based on our circumstances in the ever-changing conditions of our sinful world, but the joy of the Lord is eternal. One thing will make us happy, but it only lasts for a moment and then we’re unhappy again. Happiness is a lot like hunger. When we’re hungry, we’re dissatisfied. When we eat, we’re satisfied and content. But then our stomachs empty and we get hungry again and are left dissatisfied once more. This is the pattern of happiness. When we’re unhappy, we gorge ourselves with something we think will make us happy, but then we become empty again once that thing is used up and we need something else to fill us up in order to feel happy again. And we wonder why we’re unhappy all the time; it’s because we keep trying to fill this void within us with things that get used up. This is the pattern of life for many people who try everything in their power to be “happy.” The joy of the Lord, however, lasts forever. Noah had the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is what enabled him to be content with his surroundings and do as the Lord had called him to do. His surroundings may not have been the greatest, but he was exactly where God needed him to be and that’s all that mattered to Noah, thus he had the Lord’s joy, which surpasses all finite happiness.
The Scriptures record, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). “Reverent fear” is the key phrase here, I believe. In other words: he did it afraid and out of respect. Any one of us would experience an amount of fear after God told us to build an ark for us and our family and every kind of animal because He was going to destroy the world with a great flood. Noah had every right to fear, but in his reverence for the Lord he obeyed Him—he did it afraid. By faith, he trusted in the Lord’s words and actions. What the writer of Hebrews means by “he condemned the world” is that through the building of the ark, he showed that God’s threat of judgement and wrath was real. Noah was saved by faith, just as we are (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
Noah was in a loud, smelly, cramped ark, but that was much better than being outside in the waters. The wicked experienced God’s judgement and wrath; the faithful family of Noah experienced God’s salvation. This is a foreshadow of the judgement and salvation to come when Christ returns.
Where God is calling us to be and where He currently has us might be a little frightening and unsettling. Whatever our surroundings are, God has us exactly where He wants us to be, and it is much better than being anywhere else. Trust God—do it afraid. If He wants you somewhere else, He will get you there. Just trust that His timing is right. Noah had to way 378 days to get off this loud, noisy, cramped ark, yet he remained patient and trusted in the Lord. It might not seem like it, but you may be exactly where God wants you to be for a time.
I want nothing more than to be a pastor, but I have to wait several years before I’m ordained (about 4.5 more years). I graduate from my undergrad this coming May (2017), but I have to go to seminary for another four years before I’m ordained. I am extremely excited and eager to be a pastor and bring God’s Word to His people, but I have to wait. And I recognise I’m not ready to be a pastor because of all the things I need to learn and experience first. I first felt this calling back in 2008 when I was eighteen. I’ve been waiting ever since then. So by the time I’m ordained, I’ll have waited 13 years to be a pastor—a total of 4,745 days, which is at least 12.5 times longer than Noah had to wait to leave the ark. (Granted, I’m not on a large ark where the rest of the world is flood, for which I am most grateful.) Where God has me right now as an undergrad student is where He needs me to be in preparation to be a pastor, and when I leave for seminary in the Fall, that’s exactly where I’ll need to be for another four years. I may not be happy about it at times and I may be impatient, but my joy in the Lord totally disregards my selfish desires and enables me to be content, and so I am joyful, which is completely different than being happy. I trust Him entirely with my calling, and so I remain patient.
Trust God will provide what you need and that He’ll bring you to where He wants you to be. After all God has done for us throughout these 6,000+ years on earth, He is more than capable of providing for you and guiding you to where you need to be. Just be patient; the time is coming to walk out from where you are and be in a greater place.