“And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”
Tony Campolo was once a guest speaker at a mission rally, when he was asked to lead in prayer for a missionary doctor the group supported. The goal of the prayer? That God might provide the $5000 urgently needed for the medical centre the doctor ran.
Tony informed the congregation that he would not pray for a miracle. He knew his audience was made up of people who were materially prosperous. So he declared he would pray only after everyone in the room gave all the money they had on them that day. The congregation was stunned, but when Tony started emptying his pockets they knew he was serious. After some hesitation everyone started following suit. What started as a prayer for a miracle turned into a prayer of thanksgiving; by the end of the giving they had collected $8000, much more than was needed in the first place!
It’s crazy to think civilization rested on Noah not forgetting to stop by the grocery store on the way home, isn’t it?
In Genesis 6, society had taken such a dire turn for the worse God decided to flood the earth and start over with Noah, his wife, and three sons. Over the next 100 years, Noah built an ark to the exact specifications God had given him. The Ark was 510 ft long (that’s long enough to hold three space shuttles) and 50 ft tall (the equivalent of a four-story house.) The completion of the Ark was supernatural, no doubt, but don’t mistake supernatural intervention for the absence of work ethic, talent, and study.
God could have easily spoke an ark into existence saying, “Let there be an ark,” and voila, Noah would have been the captain of the finest vessel on the sea. Noah probably suggested the creation option to God after a long day’s work looking at the blisters and splinters on his hands, but God didn’t speak a boat into existence, He spoke an idea into the heart of a man, which brings us to verse 21 of Genesis 6.
The first time I read this verse, I literally laughed out loud. Think about the lunacy of the words God spoke to Noah. After 100 years of faithful, hard work and ridicule from peers, God ends his conversation with Noah by adding, “Oh and by the way don’t forget to take enough food on board for everyone.” If I understand God’s instruction correctly, I think it means survival hinged on ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches. Can you imagine if after 100 years of faithful obedience and hard work Noah didn’t survive because he ran out of food?
I have a love-hate relationship with Bible verses like this one. I love them because it reminds me I play a key role in God’s most miraculous endeavors. I hate them because it reminds me God rarely provides supernatural help for something I can do naturally. Which raises the question, “How often do you ask God to do something you could have done yourself?”
God can heal a marriage that refuses to go to counseling
God can lift a family out debt who won’t live on a budget
God can speak to someone who forgets to pray
God can deliver an addiction in secret
But more often than not He chooses to produce extraordinary miracles through ordinary obedience. What if God has already done the hard part he’s just waiting for you to do your part? Is there something you could do that seems ordinary, but once God does his part, it could become extraordinary? Stop waiting. No more excuses. Pray hard but work harder. You never know what might happen, just about the time you think you might run out of food, God may turn a few fish into a meal for 5,000.