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Genesis 7: Pouring Rain To Pouring Grace

After a long few years of trusting his instincts and his inner voice, Noah finally knew without a shadow of a doubt, he was not crazy. God was with him all along and God guided his steps.

Noah’s family got into the ark and shut themselves in as God had asked them to do. (1-12) For 40 days it rained and they were locked into one giant boat. (17-20) As the rain fell on the ground and the flood waters lifted the ark, I can only imagine the anxiety, fear, and increasing trust in God that Noah, his family, and even the animal must have felt. (13-16) While they watched the rest of the world beneath them be destroyed, they had to hold onto the slim hope that one day all things would end and they would come out of the flood. (21-24)

When I think of this whole story, what comes to mind is my own doubt and anxiety over things that I once felt strongly about and convinced of flickering away. There were times when I used to feel God was guiding me. But then something happens, some stressful situation arises, just like Noah’s, a flood, a fear, a fire of some sort in my mind and my convictions and trust shatters. I see the suffering of the people around me. I witness struggles, pain, and death and I wonder in my heart, why is God letting us go through all of it? Is he blind to people’s suffering?

Then I am reminded of the journey of Noah. For forty days and nights, it rained. For forty days and nights, life was grim and gloomy except for the slim hope that God would bring them through their ordeal. Then I wondered what was Noah doing in those forty days and nights? Was he spending time in fear, cursing, upset, angry and lost? Or was he using that time to connect with God deeper? Was he using his forty terrifying days simply being merry and careless?

As I prayed more I realized, no, Noah would not waste the time. He must have been in prayer just like Jesus was in the wilderness. It was a foreshadowing of the 40 years of scary travel the people of Israel had to go through to get to the land of promise. It also reminded of me of the time Moses spent in prayer on the top of the mountain. At the end of the forty days and nights, Moses, Jesus, Noah, The People of Israel and anyone who spent time in connecting with God did come out safe and sound, strong and prepared.

Maybe the whole focus of the story is not the destruction of the world, but rather the destruction of self-grandeur, power, and conviction that one can go it alone without God. Maybe what Noah went through was similar to what Moses went through. In the end, they both had clear directions for a life in which God was completely involved. Noah was spending his days and nights of pouring down rain to come to a deeper intimacy with God.

When Noah was floating around for a hundred and fifty days after the rain stopped, he had to trust God to take the helm of the boat. It was a complete letting go of all the control Noah thought he had. When God welcomes us into the ark just like he did Noah, we won’t be alone. Noah couldn’t have gotten all the animals into the ark by himself. They all entered into the space on their own as God planned. We have to live with the comfort and knowledge that God has sent all creatures to cohabitate with us also.

The story of cohabitation of all living things in the world, the collective responsibility we are all given, the trust, the letting go, the helplessness and every other human situation is so well represented in this chapter of Genesis. There is also one shining moment. That shining moment, spending forty days with God, will always bring new life and new focus into our lives. When there is heavy pouring rain of anxiety and depressing darkness overshadowing us, never forget to let God take the helm of your life. He knows how to steer it to the right shore, to the dry land where a raven and a dove will find an olive branch of life.

God’s solution #7

When life seems out of control, let God take control of your boat. When everything seems to be pouring down on you, do not waste time worrying about it. Take a forty days of prayer exercise and in hundred and fifty days of agony, you will come out better. Noah and his family did that and so did the people of Israel, Moses, and Jesus. And so can we. Give it a chance.

Genesis 6: You are significant!

Do you think you can make a difference in this world? Do you think you can be an instrument of God no matter how insignificant you feel about yourself or your life situation? I have heard people say that no matter what we do, it will make no difference in this world. I sometimes give in to that hopeless thought myself. I can see the world will go on in spite of what I do even though I want to make a significant difference in this world.

There are times I have wondered if it is even possible for God to tell me what to do? Am I that important for God to speak to me? What significant thing can I do in this world? I read the stories of great men and women of history. Their lives were not always that great according to my standards and yet, God used them for great things.

One day with these kinds of thoughts in my mind I visited my friend John. I told him how insignificant I felt we were. But even if we don’t do all that God has called us to do, it is quite all right and God will find a way. He said, “Yes, that is true. God will find a way to fulfill what He has planned, with or without you. You might as well join the party. Why not enter into what God’s plan is when you know God will continue the journey without you if you so choose.”

Then he said, “Remember what Noah did. Everyone around him thought he was crazy. While there were no clouds in the sky and the place was in a drought, Noah thought the land was going to flood and he should build an arc to take cover. While for the rest of the world around him it was senseless, for him, he knew in his heart he should listen to what the Lord had asked him to do.”

While the first look at this chapter only tells us the story of the wickedness of humankind, there is more to the story.

When the story speaks of destruction that was headed his way, Noah does not give in to fear or disobedience. He was not ready to abandon what he believed God was asking him to do. However silly or senseless he looked, he was not ready to give up on what was being asked of him.

The character of Noah is the key point in the story. Therefore, just like in the story of Enoch we see Noah walking with God in righteousness and obedience. He was not ready to fall prey to the pressure of those around him and leave the path God was asking him to take.

It looks like God was planning the flood to cleanse the earth of all the elements that were ungodly. But in reality, the whole story is far more than the destruction of the land. It was the creation of a new future. The end we see was not actually the end of it all. For those with short sight, it appeared destroyed. But for Noah, it was only the beginning of a new world. However significant and unimportant he must have felt before the flood, he surely knew that even when everything looked bleak, when everyone thought he was lost and crazy, that life was just beginning. Because God had just begun a new day.

God’s Solution # 6

You may feel like you are insignificant in this world and your actions do not always matter. However, every bit of what you do matters beyond measure and what you are is fully in the plan of God. If you are discouraged with doubt, anxious with fear, scared of what future holds, the Lord says,”Do not be afraid.” Listen like Noah and do not fall into the worldly pressures. Listen to the inner voice of God and follow.

Genesis 5: Friendship With God!

Every time I think of my family, I think of my grandparents. Their lives were very different from mine. Their standard of living and their way of understanding life was very different. Their lives do not seem as complicated as life is now. Things appear simpler. I never had a chance to see them because they all died before I was born. In spite of the fact that they were faithful, loving, and caring, they all died before I was born. No matter how good they were, my grandparents did not live long enough for me to see them.

When I read the fifth chapter of Genesis, I am awestruck by the length of life for the sons of Adam and Eve. They lived 700 to 900 plus years. The oldest man of the bunch, Methuselah, lived  969 years. In Genesis, the list of people who lived long lives, there is only one person listed who did not appear to actually die. All others even though they lived so long the author is very clear to say they actually died. No matter how good, bad, holy, unholy, man or woman, he or she died.

But then, there is the exception of Enoch. He was said to have lived 300 years and then he just vanished from the face of the earth. One other person who vanished like was the Prophet Elijah. “As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.” 2 King 2: 11.

The real focus is not on the vanishing but on the “walking faithfully” with God. The scriptures say that Enoch walked faithfully and then God took him away.

I wondered whom we walk faithfully with every day?  I am sure it is someone whom we love or at least someone who we are happy to be in the company of. He or she is going to be a friend or loved one. I am convinced that when we are walking faithfully as God’s friend, chosen by God, we will also be taken to heaven just like Enoch was taken.

I believe time flies when we are in the company of those whom we love. Time stands still when we are with those who also love us. A day is like thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. This applies to Enoch because his days on earth stopped forever. When God is in our lives, that is what happens to us. When God becomes a friend, and not a judge, master, teacher, father or mother, we are transported to a realm beyond human comprehension. I am jealous of Enoch because his earthly escapades ended well. While others lived longer and longer, like Methuselah, Enoch lived a short life but walked faithfully with God. That is better than living longer and longer without the true friendship of God.

So I am glad my grandparents and parents are now with God. Maybe they lived like Enoch, a true friend of God. The Lord didn’t have a reason to keep them here on earth for a long time. In the end, I am convinced, there is no reason to be scared of death. Being with God is nothing to fear.

God’s Solution  # 5 Loneliness Solved!

Every time life gets hard because we are lonely and lost, the Lord says, “Please walk with me.” Enoch did. If life gets to be too hard to bear it alone, remember you don’t have to bear it alone. The Lord says, “I am with you always.”

You can walk with God in faithfulness and your life will become easier and more meaningful. This is not calling for extraordinary measures in life. Walking with God and living life faithfully as a friend of God only requires focusing on living one day at a time. Like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air that have given their trust to God, we are to live without fear of death or fear of damnation but rather trust our friendship with God.

Genesis 4: Healing From Cain Syndrome

It was not a good day for the children of Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel thought they were doing the right thing in life. But things didn’t go as expected. Frustration lead to anger. Anger lead to fear. Fear lead to murder. The endless moments of backsliding were devastating for Cain.

Is there anyone who does not feel frustrated and upset when things do not work out as planned? It is easy to blame failure on someone else when things do not go our way. We might say someone stood in our way, or there were obstacles beyond our control. Frustration and anger that are produced as a result of failure are hard to deal with.

Over the years I have found that many of us fall into this trap and don’t know how to deal with our own failure. Failure doesn’t mean it is not possible for us to succeed or change. Just because the first or second attempt at a task does not go as planned, does not mean what happens in life is cursed or completely lost. Intentions can be good. But it does not mean what we do with the best of all intentions will play out well in the end.

Haven’t you heard that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions?’ This is the story of Chapter 4 of Genesis. Cain and Abel, both wanted to do the right thing. Cain and Abel wanted to please God. However, they found out quickly that pleasing God was not a one-time act. It was a series of things. It was daily living and not just an offering and a prayer.

The deeper question for us is should we be concerned about pleasing God? Or should we just focus on living life to its fullest as it comes? Living a life filled with deceit, untruthfulness, fear, jealousy, and anger will go beyond just one or two events or situations in our lives. Those negative tendencies will set the tone for everything we do. Sin is lurking at our door when these vices move just under the surface of our being.

The scriptures point to our own temptation for retaliation against another when faced with opposition, disagreement or discomfort. Personal revenge is quick and easy but forgiveness goes deeper and further. In Matthew 18: 21-22, Jesus talks to Peter about the need to forgive farther and deeper rather than holding on to vengeance and anger.

Maybe the whole story is about our willingness to forgive ourselves in the first place, to accept that we can fail and we might not do things right all the time. It is alright not to be perfect in everything we do as long as we try to do our best. Other people’s best may not be what we should aspire for but rather our best. Our best should be our only concern.

Our individual best is what God wants from us. Because we can only do what we are capable of doing. We are on a slippery slope the moment we compare what we can do with another’s best. That was the tragedy of Cain. He could not stop comparing himself to his brother.

If only you can accept who you are, you will find every reason to do what God wants you to do. Figuring out God’s will goes hand in hand with recognizing who you truly are. Because what is expected of you is what you already are capable of. Everything else you feel is called Cain Syndrome.

God’s Solution #4

So what solution did God come up with to get us out of the quagmire of self-doubt? Forgive yourself! Then you can do what God wants you to do. Do not compare yourself to others and lose no sleep over what you can not do because that’s not what God expects of you. What is expected of you is simply what is already within you. Paul had to remind the people of Corinth “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is within you?” (2 Corinthians 13: 5). If you think you can’t forgive yourself for being human and that your life is a failure, remember what God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” This is just the beginning of divine grace showing you a better way.

Genesis 3: The Beginnings Of God Moments!

Everything God created, the flowers, the fruits, the lions, the squirrels, and everything else, was found to be beautiful and good. There was no reason to be afraid of anything in the garden. After all, it was a garden, a place where all life was put together with a purpose and order. When it was completed, it was beautiful. There was no picking and choosing for the first humans.

But then God comes into the scene and gives these parents of us all, a rule. Interestingly, this first rule becomes the key feature of the human condition. The rule gives them the freedom to make a choice. Humans were given permission to like, dislike, to judge and misjudge, to decide for themselves what it is that they want to do with their lives.

The modern world thinks the ability to choose is a sign of freedom. The number of choices we have makes us feel that we are a free people. Western democracy is considered the epitome of freedom because we can choose to be what we want to be. I have heard parents tell their children, “You can be what you put your mind to. The sky is the limit! You can choose whatever you want.”

There is great joy is choosing whatever we want. However, there is the burden of responsibility in our freedom to choose. To be able to choose what we want is not a bad thing but not to accept the consequences of our choices shows immaturity. Some people may call the consequences curses while others might call it part of the choices we make.

When we reflect on the choices our first ancestors made to eat of the tree that was forbidden, the only rule that they were not to break, we find that they chose to do what they thought was right. They suffer the consequence of their choice by being thrown out of the garden and more. Even though the story does not end there, there was an immediate response, consequence and end result of their choice.

In 1 John 2:16 the author speaks of “the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches” that confront us every day. It simply points to the fact that no matter what we do, in the end, every choice we make, no matter how attractive, has consequences that will have to be dealt with.

The fruit of the tree awaits us in different forms and shapes, as it did for the first parents. Just like Adam and Eve in the story of creation we face difficult decisions, big or small, every day. For a child, the gravity of the matter is that of the child and for an adult, the matters are more serious. But the decision we have to make, regardless of age or gender, comes every moment.

The Bible gives us a glimpse into the struggles we will go through. The story of long ago is also now. The enmity between Godly things and earthly things. Our choices will take us to situations that we might regret without serious thought and reflection. But at no point does God leave us alone even though we make our decisions based on what we are exposed to and what in our ignorance we believe it to be true.

Parents set examples for their children. Here, in the story of Adam and Eve, we see how poor choices can lead us to totally unexpected consequences.

Even though one might feel cursed by the consequences of a choice made, as referenced in verse 17 of Genesis 3, we will soon find we are not left alone to figure out a solution on our own. We are assured again and again that with the angels on our side we will win the battle in the end. In the book of Revelation 12: 7, it is revealed that we will not fight this battle by ourselves, but with the Angels designated for the task and with us.

In the end of Genesis, we find the incredible freedom we are given and how everything we do comes with a consequence. If we are true to God, even the worst choice we make is not the end of it all. There is more to live for beyond the worst endings we have conjured up in our limited knowledge. The end result of our choices can still be the beginnings of God moments.

God’s Solution #3

Whatever ends badly, God can turn it around and make it better. His solution to the wrong choices we make is to make them part of God’s plan of Salvation. In saying “All things work together for good to them that love God,” (Romans 8: 28), Paul helps us understand this principle. God’s solution to man’s wrong choices is simply to be creative with a new situation. We will be given another opportunity to right the wrong and do better, with God’s help.

Genesis 2: God’s Essence

The gates are open. A beautiful paradise, the best of all gardens in the world, is now opened to Adam and Eve, to possess, to enjoy, and take charge of. Everything in it belonged to them into whom God breathed life, the Godly Essence.

This garden becomes the ground of all possibilities. It is not only that the garden becomes all that is possible but it becomes the place where God puts His complete trust in us. God rests after God entrusts us with everything that he created. The priced creation is once and forever given to the fragile man to work with and then build.

God believed in the man and the woman, the feeble creation, the creation into whom God breathed his potential and power, to do the right thing regardless of the possibility of him doing the wrong thing. It is blind faith in human potential. That is because God knew what we are capable of if taken full responsibility for what is entrusted to us. The seed of the greatest act is planted in the heart of man. God trusted what God created.

The nakedness of Adam and Eve is the authentic human condition. It is that which attunes our heart to God’s, the stripped off self that is pure. When God looked at them, the nakedness of their heart showed the purity of His creation. They fall into a sleep, a rest from everything around, into a moment of return into the essence of God. In sleep, they returned their power back to the creator. The naked sleep in God becomes the consent man gives to God every day, from day one, so God can continue to rip open human condition to form a new life, here that of Eve.

God believed in the humankind, in you, to be the bearer of new life. He invited and instilled in us the need to till the ground of our hearts, minds, and world. God invited to break open, put back together, to plant, to grow and to multiply just like what He did in six days. He was ready to watch the story unfold again and again.

By calling us to work with Him, God calls upon mankind to be the bearer of life in all form. The story of the tree begins here, from the first tree to the last, the Tree of life of which we are to eat unlike the tree of death of which we are asked to keep away. It is wisdom, the Lord tries to teach us, to know the difference between keeping away and keeping close. But it did not matter what we did, God still let us be partners of the work of creation.

God rested because God entrusted. Maybe all of us will rest if we can entrust our cares and worries into the hands and hearts of those whom we love most. Maybe the reason for the rest was more like a reason for trusting. While the man was formed of the earth, like the potter’s hands that moves through every grain of sand, God’s hand has been through every fiber of our being. Even though God created all of what we know of, God empowers man to name and claim the creation as our own handiwork. That’s trusting. God trusts us to co-create.

The divine essence is divine trust. If the breath of God within us is sufficient for God to trust us, I believe it is sufficient for us to trust the one another. Just like Adam and Eve, I am sure those in whom we put our trust, will fail us. But God does not stop there. God’s behavior is counter-cultural and illogical. That is where God’s essence is different from ours and God’s breath continues to give life. The essence of God, God’s breath in us, the trust he has in us, is proven to be unconditional and forever.