OK, suppose you are Noah, the Flood’s Noah, that is, and God says you have 120 years to build an ark and collect at least two of every animal after which He’s going to give the Earth a serious dunking. What are you going to do first? Saw wood? Make pitch? Gather bats and lizards?
If I had been Noah I’d have gone on vacation for a year. If the world was going to be destroyed I’d like to visit the Garden of Eden before it was swamped. Even though it’s guarded by two angels, I still might have the opportunity to stand on a rock and be able to peek past the swords of fire (Genesis 3:24). Could I see the Tree of Life? The Forbidden Tree? There might even be a tour guide. After that? Who knows? Since I gave my self a year I would probably just travel and take it easy. But that’s me. I’ve still got 119 years to take care of God’s request. Plenty of time, right?
What did the real Noah do? He got working on the ark right away. He and three sons had to chop, saw and lathe all available trees to build a boat four and a half football fields long. And they had to plant trees, watch them grow and cut them down after 20 or 30 years. During all this time Noah preached to his neighbors and onlookers and gawkers. We know he didn’t turn anyone to the Lord, at least any that made it on to the ark. Some may have come to God and simply died the way people do, by accident, disease or old age.
Question from an irritated reader: Really, what’s the point of all this?
The point is whereas I saw fit to take a year off because 119 years was certainly more than enough time to do what God asked, or so I thought. Noah was faithful to God’s command and started working right away and still only had seven days to spare. I would have been one year short and probably lost the tail end of the animals alphabet from wallaby to wombat all the way to the zebus.
(without using the internet, Where does a zebu live? Uh huh, thought so. And to think Noah had to scour Earth for them)
It’s a matter of values and living by them. Surely, I have values but I’m short Noah’s time at growing in my faith by about 600 years. Pastor Sattler preached that it is very important for all Christians to keep working on their faith. Noah knew the importance of ongoing faith development, so much so that God considered him not only righteous but also blameless among all persons on Earth. Blameless? For simplicity’s sake let us just say he was ‘a clean living man’. And even with that going for him, he finished his chore just in time. I don’t know if God holds us to the same high standards as he did Noah, but it’s important for any of us to take His word seriously and to follow the best we can.
How can you grow in your faith? Let us count the ways.
1. Attend church worship. If you’ve not been to church in a long time or have never been, just look around where you live. I’m only half-joking when I say when you find a large building with a cross in front of it, it’s probably a church. And it should say it’s a church somewhere on the sign in front. If not, keep driving. When you decide upon a church, try not to have any preconceived notions about what to expect. Because most churches only serve 40 – 50 people on a weekend, they’ll be surprised to see you, but happy, so give them a chance. Let them fawn over you. Most people think they want to be anonymous so they’ll find a large church, sit in the back and dart out the door when service is over. After time they might feel comfortable and want to be noticed but might have a difficult time getting noticed. If this is you, be patient and speak to an usher or the pastor after service. They ‘ll take care of you.
2. Read your Bible. You probably have a Bible somewhere in your house. You just have to remember which box it is packed in. If you don’t have a Bible, you can buy them at a bookshop. And, no, it is not OK to steal one. Where to start? If you start at the beginning, you’ll get confused and bored and lose interest. Start with the New Testament and read one of the first three books, Matthew, Mark, or Luke. These are the gospels of Jesus, how He came to be, what He did, how and why He died, and how He came back to life.
3. Get involved with others. There are many aspects of a church that aren’t worship. There are choirs or bands to join if you are musical. Groundskeeping and maintenance are always needed to be done if you are handy with a saw or lawn mower. The altar needs cleaning and straightening and candles need filling if you enjoy keeping things looking tidy and neat. These don’t seem like faith-growing techniques but when you hang out with like-minded persons you pick up their ways. You will see how they respond to situations. You’ll know pretty soon if they take their Christian life seriously.
4. Pray. The one thing you don’t need any equipment for, can do anytime, and do almost anywhere is the one Christians do the least.
What do you do?
It doesn’t have to be out loud. Talk to Him in your head. Tell Him how you are. Tell Him what you like about your life. Tell Him about your problems. Ask Him for His help. You don’t even have to thank Him or say ‘amen’ or shout out ‘hosannah’ or anything. Just keep Him in mind. As you grow in your faith you’ll know when to say all those ‘churchy’ words or when to pray in a group or out loud. Just one step at a time.
These are just a few of the ways to grow in your faith with God. Just know that the Christian life is a group life. It is meant to be in communion with others by sharing, giving and praying but also by allowing yourself to be helped by others. We mostly like to keep our problems to ourselves. We might ask others to pray for us or some situation involving another person close to us but we see it as a sign of weakness if we ask others to help us with a chore around the house, or a ride to here or there, and maybe a meal. We love others by letting others love us.