We were driving on the Buckman on Thanksgiving. It’s a three mile bridge that runs over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. It still takes my breath away every time I’m on it. Sometimes the river is as still as glass and others it is so choppy that you think you’re looking at the sea. On this warm November morning, a light rain started to fall and a full rainbow stretched the entire length of the Jacksonville city skyline. It was such a beautiful picture of promise and hope.
I so want to love God with the demonstrations of a huge faith but I know that I also love Him by waiting well. There is such a constant tension between the two. He is a big God capable and willing to do big things, but His timing is also perfect and He uses the waiting to do big things in us. I want to worship Him with both my faith and my waiting but my mind still struggles to know the season.
I think Noah did this well. We know the story of the ark saving Noah, his family, and all the animals, but we don’t talk as much about the building time…the waiting…the possible questions and even doubts. Scholars differ on how long that process may have taken. Many believe it probably took around 75 years. Noah waited for his promise longer than most of us have been alive.
We’re not given any record that Noah got more direction or encouragement after the initial commands until it was time to board. No one came to rotate duties with him. No one was standing in line to tell him what a great job he was doing. Ark building probably wasn’t even his fulltime job. His God was no less big because of his long wait. He was no less real and no less good.
Oh, how I falter in my comparative short seasons of waiting. So many of us give up when we don’t get what we want right away…when we don’t see the results we want. What if Noah would have stopped measuring, stopped nailing, or just stopped showing up to do the work? Would we be here? Would the animals be alive? God may have found someone else to do the job but, regardless, I wouldn’t want to be the one that quit. I don’t ever want to be the one that quit.
It may seem like a contradiction, but I don’t think we can have big faith without the waiting well. There’s a reason most of this life is a time of waiting. I think it is the waiting well that develops big faith and attracts God’s promises. It’s the one that endures to the end that is saved. It is the one that draws near to God continually that God draws near to. It is the one that is faithful in the little that will see much. It is the one that has learned to give in need that gets what they need. It is the one that offers their sacrifice of praise over and over again that pleases God.
Psalm 25:12 in The Message says, “My question: What are God-worshipers like? Your answer: Arrows aimed at God’s bull’s-eye.” If worship is an arrow aimed at God, I think big faith is like a fast, praise song. It gets there quickly and hits its target with force. But waiting well, faithfulness, is a song that God savors as it takes its time arriving at its destination and wedges deep in the heart of God.
People may have asked Noah where his God was. He may have even wondered at times. Just because God didn’t “show up” in those 75 years didn’t mean God wasn’t with Noah…that He wasn’t there…that He wasn’t at work…and that big things weren’t happening. Noah believed, waited, and he received his promise. How beautiful that first rainbow must have been to him.
God always shows up. He always keeps His appointments. The promise is ours. The check’s not in the mail, it was nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago. We’re not just waiting for a promise. We have The Promise. When we realize that, waiting on all the other stuff is simply worship.