Taking Him at His Word

Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark with his family and all of the animals. And in his 600 years of life, Noah had never seen it rain. But when God said it was coming and told him how to prepare, Noah listened and obeyed. However, as I recently reread the familiar story in Genesis 7, I noticed something that is often missed when telling the story: In verse 1, God tells Noah and his family to load up, but in verse 4, we see that it will be a week before the rain will start. So, Noah and his family are locked in the ark for seven days while the sun is likely still shining. 

Many of us would have been tempted to get back out and stretch our legs or even wait until we felt the first raindrop, but not Noah. While he may have wrestled with his doubts, he stood his ground and remained in the ark trusting that God's words would prove true. 

In John 4, we are introduced to an official from Capernaum whose son was sick and at the point of death. Hearing that Jesus is in the area, this man seeks an audience with Jesus to ask Him to come and heal his son. Jesus does not go to his son, but tells the man, "Go, your son will live." (v. 50) These words are enough, and the man believes without seeing or knowing any physical evidence that Jesus' words are true. And the man returns home walking in confidence that what Jesus said would be true. 

Now, the walk back to his son was not a short distance. He traveled overnight to reach Jesus and had to travel the same distance back home before he would know if his son would be healed. As I read this story, I found myself wondering how the father slept that night. Seeing him walk away from Jesus believing His words, I imagine he slept soundly believing when he returned home the next day, he would find his son healed. I am reminded of the Psalmist's words, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) 

Taking God at His word is so hard for us, but we see over and over in Scripture that He is faithful to keep His word. So, what is it that keeps us from believing Him? 

While each of us deals with our circumstances and battles, I am willing to bet there are a couple of commonalities in our lives that make it difficult for us to take God at His word:

1) We don't know His Word.
2) We believe that our plan is better.

We don't know His Word

Both Noah and the official of Capernaum heard God's word and believed. But to believe God's word, we must know His Word. I recently had a conversation with a college student who shared with me that she was not sure if she believed the Bible to be true. When I pressed a little and asked if she had read it for herself or just heard her parents and others talk about it, she admitted that she had not. Too often we think of sitting at church and listening to our pastors talk about the Bible or our reading snippets of Scripture on social media equates with us knowing God's Word. But let us join with the Psalmist in declaring: 

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you...Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:10-11, 97)

If reading Scripture is not a daily discipline in your life, you will have difficulty believing God because you do not know His Word. My encouragement to you is to start with 5 minutes each day, humbly opening your Bible and asking the Lord to reveal Himself and His Word to you and then watch Him be faithful to do it.

We believe our plan is better

Too often we struggle with how God does things, thinking we know best, so we question the timing and how He brings things about. The prophet Isaiah shares God's perspective on this tug-of-war,

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) 

If my life is any indication, the struggle to trust His ways are better will be a life-long battle. However, as I get older, I find myself dropping the rope more quickly each time, realizing the absurdity of my thinking I can win the game and pull God over to my side. Instead, I try to remind myself of the importance of offering God my praise despite my circumstances or my fears. It is a lesson I have been learning over the past several years after walking through the unexpected and the uncertain. My fears can become tangled up in the what-ifs of the future as I try to make a plan for how I will make it through. But here's the thing, we don't know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14) so how can we plan for it? We must praise and worship the One who does know, and trust in Him who is faithful to provide for our needs today (Matthew 6:11) and who holds our tomorrows (Psalm 16:5; 139:16). 

Noah entered the ark not knowing what a flood would look like or even how long he and his family would be inside with all of those smelly animals, but he knew the God who asked him to enter. The father seeking healing for his son did not beg Jesus to come with him but trusted that His words were enough. May we treasure God's Word as we see throughout the pages of Scripture that He has always been faithful to keep His Word, and may we believe with all of our hearts that He always will, and may we live in the freedom to trust His ways are always better. 

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