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Genesis 17: The Two Way Street Of Faith!

In the last chapter we learned, Abram and Sarai tried to help God to fulfill His promise to them and that’s why we have Ishmael in the story. We talked about this last week as to how Sarai got a little impatient and helped Abram to help God. Well, it eventually only caused a problem between Sarai and Abram. Jealousy, fear, anger and all kinds of other emotions played out in Hagar running away.

This whole drama must have been exhausting and scary for all parties involved, Sarai feeling down, Abram feeling guilty, Hagar feeling rejected and scared. The Poor child, Ishmael, in the midst of it all became homeless.

God understood the fears and worries of all involved. Therefore God does what was the right thing to do with Hagar, Abram, and Sarai. He makes a covenant with Abram and not just Abram, as we listen more we see him making this covenant between God and Abram and then his children and children’s children, to generations to come. God promises justice for generations to come and forever.

God’s Covenant with Abram was not without anything in return from Abram. What was required of Abram was his obedience. Abram’s obedience was important in the story and required. But in my opinion, all God wanted was the love from his children including Abram. Obedience becomes easier when it is love that is expressed in obedience.

God in a way maybe a little needy. I know many people don’t like needy people. But then that’s what we all are. We are all needy for various reasons, but more when it comes to love. It proves the fact that we are, for sure, children of God who is needy and wants our love. For God will and have gone to great length to break the natural law to get Sarai pregnant. God, of course, can do whatever but He went to great length to make sure his promise and covenant with Abram are kept. All that he asks in return is that Abram and his children and children’s children love him and give God the first place.

I believe many times God loses patience with people in the Old Testament when they don’t love him and give him the first place. He had already told them that plain and clear, He wants to be the only God they should love, worship and live for. It is not that God did not make it clear. He did. But then being me, I said to myself, what kind of insecure God is that? But then senes came to me. I think the whole world runs on that fuel of wanting to be loved.

According to Karl Barth, a theologian “God defined: ‘The One Who Loves.” So, if we want to be like God, there is only one choice, become the one who loves like God. The fallen angels did not have that grace. They fell from grace because it was the power that they were seeking. Well, I am sure love has this reciprocal requirement that to experience real love you have to give love, love in return. If you don’t give love, you won’t experience love. That’s when all the problems begin. Love is never a one-way street. It goes both ways and that’s all that the Lord is asking to Abram and Sarai. It is not an abstract request God makes here. He names people to be loved. God The Almighty, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Ishmael, Hagar. It is particular, personal and direct.

So this chapter is much more than the story of Abram and Sarai and the covenant. It is setting in stone how that covenant is kept namely obedience in love for God. Stories after stories say that God did keep his promises.

Solution #17

God demands love because God gives love. Love is only experiential when we give it and not simply take it. Many in the world take love but forget to give it. The fabric of faith and family fails when love is not returned but only taken.

Genesis 16: Faith Is Born In Human Chaos!

For all my life I have heard that Abram is the father of faith. I know that’s because of what he did when he was asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It is a great example of trust in God. I have said earlier that I don’t have that kind of faith. I wish I did.

However, when I reflected further, I wondered what happened to Abram and Sarai? God had promised them that He will multiply them and make them a great nation. His descendants will be like the stars in the sky. As smart and intelligent people, to know Sarai in her old age could get pregnant, was hard to believe. But then, why shouldn’t they trust God?

I believe they trusted God to do his part and keep His promise. As the days passed by, they must have been totally confused and afraid. As much as they wanted to trust God to keep the promise, they were not getting any younger to wait forever. Life was passing by and their strength to deal with life situations was diminishing.

I can only imagine the fear, sadness, humiliation and all the rest of the feelings Sarai must have gone through when she offered her servant girl to her husband. What was that for? Was it to help God to fulfill the promise? It was fear that things may not happen if they waited too long. Then there is the fear that they may not be able to conceive a child in their old age. All kinds of stressful moments crept in and made life total chaos, I am sure.

I always wondered if trusting in God is easy? I believe it might take us through a period of chaos especially if we try to help God? Can our idea of God’s plan lead us to do things that are crazy sometimes? Can God actually do things as God has promised, at least as we believe God has promised us in our prayer, without our help?

When I reflected more on these things I found the faith of Sarai and Abram was short just as much as ours. Genuine faith in God is prone to fail when we go through the chaos. Living in faith is living in chaos. Even when everything else seems to go against whatever we believe we can develop our trust in God. Chaos in life is ripe enough to give birth to the true faith.  

Abram and Sarai were going through the temptation to help God figure things out, without waiting patiently for God to do things. God’s timing sometimes is hard to understand and sometimes completely not in sync with the human clock. Our clock is limited because we only have a few years to live and we measure everything accordingly, but God’s clock infinite. There is not a sure way of explaining what God has in mind and the timing of it. Trusting God is not easy for anyone just as it was not the case for the father and mother of faith, Abram and Sarai.

But God can still act and God can still come through. The human chaos in this stressful situation was not the end of it all for God’s friend. It was made into a new beginning again.

Solution #16

Faith cannot be packaged easily in a neat little box. It lives through the chaos of life and many times faith is emboldened because of chaos. We are all better for the chaos of life because it helps us to live humbly. It makes us people who are real and down to earth. Of course, that goes only for those who are willing to accept that they have chaos in their lives. It is comforting to know the father and the mother of faith, Abram and Sarai, had enough chaos in their lives to strengthen their resolve to listen to God regardless of them.

Genesis 15: Two Sides Of A Coin

When we go deeper into the study of this scripture today, we find how God watches over the feelings, the emotions, the experiences and the fears of His chosen people. As you know Abram just came out of a war and so we find him exhausted from it. Yes, he did not fall for the temptation to keep the plunder, the land, the women or anything else. After fighting with a bigger enemy than his own, I am sure Abram is now anxious, because you never know who is going to come after you when you settle, calm down or when you let your guards down.

In Genesis 14 we saw Abram defeated the king Melchizedek. Abram was generous and kind and left the king alive and well. But that does not mean he was not afraid of the future or the things that he does not know about in the future.

When he fell into a deep sleep, Abram had a vision. But what he heard in the vision was even more powerful. He was told not to be afraid of what lies ahead. He was asked to let go of his fears, but trust God to lead him. Even though things are not as clear as he wants, God assures him, that God will walk with him all the way. He will live long and have a happy ending that is peaceful.

The whole story here reveals the naked thoughts of Abram on one side and the plan God has for us in such moments on the other. Abram knew he does not have a child to inherit whatever it is that he has and God gives him. He knew he is old. He also knew his wife was old enough not to bear a child for him. All of these fears in Abram was known to God as well.

Sometimes I wonder if the Lord really understands what I am going through. I don’t dare speak my fears out, but I am sure, God does read my hearts and thoughts. Even when I know God knows things, I am not able to quieten my heart from fear. I have thought sometimes that I can control the outcome if I knew what is to happen. I am only fooling myself if I believe I can control the future because the future and everything that surrounds my life is uncertain and beyond my control.

I want to remember, again and again, God does not and will not leave me alone when I am willing to walk the path he has shown me even when it is through the wilderness. When Abram gave up the plunder and saved the lives of others, God was watching the actions of Abram. His future was secured by God who watched with love the kindness of Abram. Abram was blessed with more than he needed by blessing him with children and family that will spread out to all corners of the earth.

In this story, I invite your focus on the stumbling man in Abram. He was afraid, lost, scared, anxious and worried about the future because of the past, present and all that was unknown to him in the future. God picks him up from those fears and rather than challenging and judging him, embraces him with promises beyond his imagination. This is the way of God. God is not a God of vengeance as many might think, but a God who reads the hearts, minds, and thoughts of mankind and helps them calm down in life if we are willing to listen.

Solution #15

Pure and sincere honesty in the eyes of God is always pleasing to God even when we are afraid, lost or angry. We all have a chance to be heard, loved and cared for in the middle of our fears. God is not leaving us alone, just like he did not when Abram was not sure what the future holds. Abram, through the grace of God, knew life was only beginning after an exhausting war. He was ready to reject his fears and accept God’s help when the Lord asked him to trust him.

Genesis 14: Humility in victory!

According to the scholars and from the reading of Genesis 14, we find this chapter is hanging out here without a real flow. It is not necessarily connected to any other part of the Bible specifically, other than giving some foundation for the story we heard before and after. In the earlier chapters and the ones following this, we find references to the life of Lot, the nephew of Abram.

However, when we go deeper into the study we will find, as always is the case, there is more to the story in each chapter. The one I want to focus today is found in verse 22 and thereafter, where we read of the God who created heaven and earth. There is an emphasis on the creator of the universe and all that exists and a person’s response to life when met with success and failure.

I find this is much more than about the God who is the creator of the world. This is about a God whose magnificent power extends beyond the creation of heaven and earth. God not only creates, which is affirmed in that verse but sustains. The power lies not just in creation, but it is greater in sustaining it. While these words say that we are not self-made, as some might assume in the modern world, it also says the power of life stands outside us and life is given to us.

In a world where we speak about who is the author of life, whether it is God or science or whether it is by chance or evolution, we have to believe in one principle that, in the end, life originated outside of us and it is given to us at some point as a gift. The whole chapter leads one to the fact that God is the creator of all and therefore God is the sustainer of all of life. Abram acknowledges it and gives thanks to God for it.

Abram defeated the king. As a victorious person, he had every right to possess the land, the people and everything else. The discourse between the king and Abram points to that fact. But Abram is clear of his future and what he wants in the end. It is not the possessions of the world and the land. It is following what God wants him to do. As we saw in the earlier chapter, Lot took what he thought was the best and fertile land, and Abram took what he was blessed with in the leftover. Abram trusts God again as before, and sure enough, we will see Abram’s journey is not over yet.

He wants nothing from the king because he has plenty from God. His focus is purely on what is given to him by God and everything else is not worth anything. When Abram swears by God that he wants nothing more than what he has been blessed with, he also is saying he is content with his portion.

So in the end, I want to invite you to reflect: Is what you have enough to be content with? What are you not satisfied with, in life and why not? Is God the God of your possessions, your life, and your future?

Solution #14

Acknowledge God as the creator and sustainer of your life. Be content with what you have. Give back what does not belong to you. Bless even when you are defeated. Build even when things fall apart. These are simple lessons and solutions to lead a happy and content life. Failure and loss is part of life, but living into them is like living in the past. Let bygones be bygones. Living into the future is what makes us children of the moment.

Genesis 13: Shrinking and Expanding Grace!

Life is Unique

While man has reasons for the things he does based on relational thinking and justifications, God always has the power to turn man’s actions around and use them to create a unique and perfect plan of his own. The scriptures often reveal how God uses the frailties of man to achieve his greater glory.

Abram returns from Egypt with all the wealth and security he would ever need. He and his people continue to grow in riches. Along with the unexpected and unimaginable wealth, the strife it created grew also. There came the very human need to protect what they had. Protecting hard earned money can cause relationship issues and problems among siblings. The families of Abram and his brother, Lot, were not spared this strife.

The blessing in a sacrifice

Like sensible people, Abram and Lot must come together to find a solution to their problem. Lot saw the fertile land in front of him and realized the great potential it held. Abram, suggested a solution by saying, “If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.”  He compromised by taking what was left by his brother. So, Lot takes what he feels is the better portion and Abram simply takes what Lot leaves behind. In order to have peace between brothers, one must be willing to make the necessary sacrifice.

The two brothers go their separate ways and both prosper. This is where the story gets more interesting because God’s plan never fails.

God never fails.

When we look to Abram’s future, we find that this seemingly insignificant sacrifice that he made by accepting what Lot did not want, becomes what is best for the future of his people. God never fails in his promises. God can and will turn everything into the best for those who are willing to humble themselves and build others up.

Why build up the other

This whole 13th chapter of Genesis is about Abrams willingness to put his brother before himself. It shows that his self-sacrificing nature paid off in the end when God, as always, keeps His promise to His people. Lot got what he wanted but God blessed Abram with much more. The two Transjordanian kingdoms of the progeny of Lot are smaller and more insignificant than the larger and greater future nation of Israel.

Solution #13

When we make sacrifices and do the right thing in life, we sometimes feel like we have been taken advantage of by the other. Sometimes self-sacrifice to build the other might feel senseless and even painful. Loss of wealth and security might also feel like a lot to take in especially when those who have taken advantage of you seem to prosper. One thing I have learned in life through this story and many others, God is a God of justice and not convenience, a God of who knows both the beginnings and the ends. Things will turn around when God is in control of life if only we can live without anxiety. Build up your neighbor, brother, sister, family, friends and in turn, I promise what might look like a lot, will turn into the best. For God knows the progeny of a selfish man only ends up shrinking and the sacrifice of the righteous will always prosper.

Genesis 12: Bless To Grow In Faith

Genesis 12

God is happy with Abram and walks with him as his friend. We find God is pleased with Abram and promises blessings to him and to his descendants and all generations to come through him. Then we see Abram, trusting in God’s hand, leave Haran, travels through Canaan and worships God through the journey that he is on. We find Abram and his family caught by a famine that drives them into Egypt. There he tries to save the life of his wife and himself by lying about their identity.

Becoming a global village

We live in a world where people move from one place to another easily. We have become a global village. For that reason, we find ourselves living among people of different ethnic, language, religious and cultural differences than our own. If we can learn three major languages in the world, English, Spanish, and Chinese, it is possible to move into any part of the world and with a little hard work, make a home for yourself…

Abram started it

For Abram when he was asked to leave his land, his world, his security, and his future, that was not the case. There was nothing easy about it. To trust his instincts and move to another world believing a dream, a vision, a voice in his head, all of which sounds like a fool’s errand was anything but easy. But he trusted that God would keep his word. He trusted that when he left his home, a new world would open up before him. He believed when one door closes, another will be open.

Trusted God’s Promises to do it

The story of faith is the story of trusting in the consistency of God’s promises. Even when we do not see any way forward, we trust that God is going to keep His word to the end. Biblical history is full of promises fulfilled. When Abram trusted that God had a plan even when everything in him said…”This is senseless to take my son to the top of the mountain and sacrifice him”, he went forward with his conviction. In my so-called enlightened mind of today, I think, “what was he thinking? What kind of a God was asking someone to kill their son or daughter?” I don’t understand it. But then, I believe in the story of Salvation through Christ and that’s exactly the story of Jesus. A Son is sacrificed. It remains a mystery for me. I will never be able to trust God enough to sacrifice my child, but Abram does and thus becomes the Father of Faith. To get there, he had to learn about the consistency of God’s actions.

God’s Consistency shows it

God’s plan of Salvation is consistent. When God promises the land, he delivers. (Exo 33: 1) When God promises a prophet, he sends one. (Deut 18: 15) When God promises a good name and fame, God sets the stage for you to get it. (Psalm 72: 17) He promises admiration of those who follow God’s will and makes sure it happens. (Jer 4: 2) He invites everyone to become good-news people because God will come to their rescue in the end and bless their days. (Zeh 8: 12)

He Learned From God’s Actions

Abraham passed through lands that were not his own. He came unscathed through the lands of the enemies as if their friend. Because what prompted him to trust God was a deep conviction, God was walking with him through the dark nights of life. God kept his promises to Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and all of God’s people.

What are we to do to be like Abram and turn into Abraham, the man who trusted God’s promptings within? How shall we do what is impossible in the midst of never-ending doubts, fears, anxieties, and uncertainties? Take the lesson from Abram and bless the world around you. Bless the people, the nations, the enemies and the lands we cross every day. Some might look like enemies and others like friends. But in the end, we have to cross through all the barriers and boundaries, blessing them rather than cursing them. The Salvation of God is brought about by blessing the land we pass through every day.

Solution #12:

Bless the world around you in any way possible. The key thought, “Bless” and God will continue to keep His word through your hands and hearts.

 

Genesis 11: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due!

GENESIS 11: GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Genesis 11

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  • One language in the world, and the building of Babel. (1-4)
  • The confusion of tongues, and the builders of Babel scattered. (5-9)
  • The descendants of Shem. (10-26)
  • Terah, father of Abram, grandfather of Lot, they move to Haran. (27-32)

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How brilliantly God created humanity

The human capacity to figure things out and find a solution to any problem is incredible. In the area of medicine, technology, space exploration –  you name it, if we have an idea we can usually make it happen. The power of the human mind and human will is extraordinary. We can achieve what we want to if we put our minds to it. It is here that we find the divine lineage. We belong to the same family of God. We are creative and compassionate. That is our primary make up. We are his people.

Give Credit Where it is due

But that does not always happen. I am sure you have heard the expression, ‘give credit where credit is due.’ In Genesis 11 the story starts to go south. The descendants of the prophets built a great city but their hearts were in the wrong place. Their focus shifted from being grateful for what God had done and instead they said, “let us make a name for ourselves.” The focus shifted. A great nation, a great monument, great hard working people, a great achievement were all in place but their pride took over their senses.

Arrogance Destroys

Several people have told me over the years that they hate people who let their arrogant self confidence become bigger than their actual achievement. The truly great scientists, inventors, philanthropists, politicians, priests, teachers, professors, great men and women in space, under the sea and everywhere else are those who simply say, “wow…. This is magnificent and greater than ourselves.” The heart that wonders at the magnificence of the world around them is the heart that capable of being humble.

Faith is not absolutism

Faith is not necessarily the absolutism that says God is and does everything but rather believing that there is more to life than what one really knows. Faith is simply knowing deep within what one has achieved or seen or heard is only a fraction of what can be achieved or seen or heard or understood. It is when we realize somethings are beyond us that we grow in faith and that leads to humility.

The Example Of King Nebuchadnezzar

King Nebuchadnezzar is a prime example of how arrogance destroys the arrogant. He says, “Look at this, Babylon is great! And I built it all by myself, a royal palace adequate to display my honor and glory.”Dan 4:30-31. Before the words were spoken, it was all taken away from him.

When it is about self, then it is not about God.

What God Dislikes

God dislikes it when credit is not given where credit is due. For that reason, man dislikes it too. That’s why I keep saying, we belong to the same family, God and us. That’s all this story is really about. “The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it.” Phil 3: 3. This is the correct attitude of the one who understand his place.

What destroys grace and life

An arrogant approach to life is destructive in any culture, family, community or country. Psalm 52:1 says, “Why do you brag of evil, “Big Man”? God’s mercy carries the day.” If we could be aware of this fact, we will probably be grateful in everyday life for everything in life. Because what we are and what we have, every bit of it is because God is.

God’s Solution  #11

Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord. Be proud of what you have achieved and accomplished in life but give thanks to God for walking with you on the journey. The answer to hard moments and beautiful ones are what we read in Philippians 3:3. “Fill the air with Christ’s praise. It is pleasant to be around those who praise someone else than themselves.”

Genesis 10: The Table Of Nations

The most boring chapters of the Bible, in my opinion, are chapters like Genesis 10. All you read are the names of people. Then I tell myself, yes, I’ve got it, let’s move on. Noah had all these sons and their wives and their children and their children. None of these people live like they should according to my standards. None live like the sons and daughters of a great prophet.

One day as I was studying this chapter again, I realized that the writers had to work hard to come up with 70 names in the chapter. This chapter is known as the Table of Nations. Here is the story of 70 nations. To make it seventy nations not twenty-five, I am sure the writers had to invent names and put things together in order to achieve this classical biblical number of 70, the number of perfection. There must be a reason for all of that.

Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Biblical scholars and teachers in the world, gave me some insight into it when he said this is “an unparalleled ecumenical vision of human reality.” The Table of Nations declares the interconnectedness of all people. At the time when it was written, the authors only spoke of the known world, not about the near east or nations outside of their purview. It was what they knew and what they believed. God was the author of all and brought the world to perfection by making 70 nations after the flood. The number 70 meant perfection in the eyes of God. So, why not go with 70 that would encompass all nations of the known world?

The point here is that even though the worldview of the writers’ thousands of years ago was so limited and narrow, their hearts were in the right place. They knew no matter who lived where, they were designed by God and therefore no matter what sin they or their ancestors committed, they all belonged to the same God. They believed God was the author of life, therefore, their names deserved to be in the sacred texts for generations to come. Nothing, no color, creed, gender, ethnicity mattered to the writers because the entire world had only one author. Therefore the 70 nations were a sign of God’s complete perfection. In short, our DNA comes from the same source and same origin. The Tale of The Nations points to the ultimate power of God over humanity.

Now that made sense. Nimrod, one of the sons of Cush, was a conqueror. He was greedy and he was not satisfied with all what he had. He conquered the lands and kept building them rather than be satisfied with what he got. It’s about power and prestige. It did not matter. In the end, God still is in charge through the ruthlessness of Nimrod. The story is not about the perfection of what mankind does but rather the perfection of the plan of God. That is what brings us together as the people of God. Every time I read genealogy I find the constant reminder to us all that the story is not to limit our lineage but to expand it and connect it to God as the author of all lives.

St. Augustine of Hippo says, “Peace in society depends upon peace in the family.” This same idea is redefined by Mother Theresa when she said, “we do not have world peace, because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” I mentioned this previously and continue to repeat this, only to say, this chapter of Genesis states simply that we have an interconnectedness as one human family that shares the same DNA. God found it to be perfect and beautiful and therefore the story goes to 70 people, to 70 nations, to 70 differences, to 70 problems. In all that happens around God, there is perfection if only we could believe we are all the sons and daughters of Noah. The writers of the Bible want us to believe in the unity of the world and not the uniformity of our behavior.

God’s solution #10

Ever increasing population is simply the multiplication of divine love and a chance for us to see the wealth of God’s understanding of differences in us. True transformation lies in our ability to the see perfection in God’s creation just like the writers of Genesis 10 did. The 70 people and 70 nations demonstrated the complete perfection of God’s plan. Every person on earth is part of that 70 nations club, meaning, a club of people sharing in God’s DNA. We have more reason to be at peace with each other and the world than otherwise.

Genesis 9: Never Again Promises and Signs

“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” This covenantal statement is not simply about the rainbow. This is talking of God’s covenant with man to give life, to keep life, and to hold us responsible for the lives we share. This verse contains the sentence that the entire story of Genesis chapter 9 rests on.

God is not asking us to do what God doesn’t do himself. He promises not to take life again. Never again, is the key word in the whole chapter. Never again will I take life. Never again will I destroy. Never again will I take away the past, the present and the future of humanity. I will make everyone accountable for the life of the other.

We live in a divided world. In my opinion that comes from the misguided idea of freedom to live for self and not always honoring the life of others. True freedom, in the end, is about giving, respecting, honoring and preserving the lives of others. When we speak of life, there is only one choice left to humanity and that is to simply believe in one thing. “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind.”

I sometimes ask myself, am I a literalist or ‘metaphorialist’? (By the way I made up this word.) Do I have a right to take the life of the other at any time in my life regardless of the circumstances? I have to always go back to these words in the New International Version of the Bible. “I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.”

I am not afraid of God and never will be. But hearing that I can feel in my bones the seriousness of human life. If there is any sentence where God will hold me responsible and accountable, it is about the life of the other. That’s what I hear loud and clear. If I agree with someone or disagree with another, if I approve or disapprove of another, if I hate or dislike another, no matter what the extend of that hard feeling is, I am left no option except to advance the cause of life.

Mother Theresa, one of my favorite saints, says, “If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” It is not about believing in the goodness of the other or believing in people and their gifts. But it is about knowing in our hearts that we belong to each other. I want to call this word, “Belong” as both imperative and operative word in spirituality. “To belong” has to become vitally important in mind and functional in our heart.

So, in the end, did Noah, his sons and family, and the rest of the world around them have a real choice? I believe they did not. Did they live accordingly? I believe they did not. So, we all have the potential to be like Noah and his sons. But we are also told never to forget that God will hold us accountable when it comes to the destruction of life. I am sure some will ask me, but then how about the criminals, the child abusers, the terrorists, the unborn in the womb, the murderers?. To all, I only have one thing to say “I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.” says the Lord.

I guess I am a literalist in this context. As much as I hate to admit that I am, this is one time I am happy to accept that I am. I truly believe God will demand an accounting for the life of the other. I don’t usually speak for God. But this is one time I know it could be very true because if it is not true, the entire creation of humankind in God’s image and likeness would be meaningless.

God’s solution #9

Human life is so precious. We struggle to understand and let our actions reflect it. We are given a direction that does not need an interpretation but a simple adherence to. The man on death row, the ill and infirmed, the hungry, the poor and displaced, the child in the womb, from day one to the day last, share the same DNA with God. Therefore, the solution is to simply believe that we truly are made in the image and likeness of God and act accordingly.

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.