Action Without Evidence: Building Arks on Sunny Days

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  Hebrew 11:7

Most of us learned the delightful Bible story of Noah’s Ark when we were children.  It’s pretty simple really:

God saw great wickedness and decided to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. However, one righteous man, Noah, found favor with God. With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy everything.  God also instructed Noah to bring into the ark two of all living creatures.  After they all entered, rain fell for forty days and nights. The waters flooded the earth, and everything was wiped out. As the waters receded, the ark came to rest in the mountains, and mankind started over.

End of story, right?  Not so fast!

There is one very important aspect of the famous story that you may not have considered.   Genesis 2:5 suggests that it had never rained before the flood:

“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth.” 

So Noah obeyed God’s command of building the ark; toiled through intense labor; and sustained through the relentless doubt and ridicule of friends and family, for over 100 years of perfectly sunny weather!  Not a drop of rain in sight.

When God gives directives, we tend to immediately require evidence before we are willing to act – evidence that the outcome will be well worth our required effort and sacrifice.  In other words, we often want to see rain before we are willing to start building arks.

There’s a problem with needing evidence before taking action: Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith and evidence cannot co-exist:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Here was poor Noah, laboring day and night for over 100 years, building an ark ahead of God’s promise of a great deluge – strictly out of obedience to God’s command.

I can hear Noah now:

‘Now wait a minute Lord, let me make sure I have this thing right.  Are you really telling me that you want me to work like crazy for over 100 years, building a gigantic boat to house my family and a bunch of animals….before it starts pouring down raining?  Seriously? And just what is ‘rain’ anyway?’

But instead of questioning and commiserating about God’s appointment, in Genesis 6: 22 Noah had a very simple response to God’s highly unusual command.

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

Now that’s faith!

Last year I was driving my dad to a new nursing home for his transfer.  About halfway there I stopped at a busy intersection.  While waiting at the stoplight, I noticed a homeless young lady standing on the median to my left.

Like you, I see homeless people on the street all the time…some standing at intersections…some toting signs…some even actively soliciting money.  On occasion – if it’s convenient, and I happen to have some spare chain – I might even hand them a buck or two.  Then I’ll continue on my merry way, never giving much thought to their desperate plight, or my subtle act of Godly obedience.

For the most part – though the principals vary in age, size, shape, gender, and color – the homeless all look the same to me.

But not the young lady standing on the median that particular early August afternoon.  There was something notably different about her.  Something distinctively sad, something unusually needy, yet something especially……hopeful.

As I tried to focus my attention on the stoplight ahead, not on the wayward young lady to my left, it seemed as though the Lord spoke: “Help her, she doesn’t belong there.”

I tried desperately to ignore God’s calling that day, while anxiously waiting for the stoplight to turn green.  I had no desire or resources to help the homeless lady……and no evidence that it was truly God beseeching me to act.

Besides, it was a ridiculous request.  I knew nothing about the young lady, who she was, her background, or even her desire for life restoration.  The Lord might as well have been commanding me to build a giant ark, ahead of yet unseen rain.

I continued on to the new nursing home that day, fighting hard to forget the unusual directive that I’d been given earlier.

Two days passed, and for the most part I had forgotten about my previous intersection encounter.  Then suddenly, while pulling out of a hardware store parking lot, the Lord spoke again.  “Go back and help her.”

At this point I was convinced that my imagination was playing tricks on me….or maybe it was the exotic Mexican dish from the night before.  I was on the far eastside of town, and I‘d previously encountered the young lady on the far west side.  Obviously she wouldn’t still be there 2 days later.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t shake what I’m convinced was the nudging of the Holy Spirit.  So I headed west toward the intersection again, if only to appease my spirit by proving that the young lady had long since moved on.

As I arrived back at the intersection I was surprised – no, shocked – to find the young lady standing there again.  “Are you kidding me, there she is again!”

Now convinced that it was indeed the Lord – not the enchilada – speaking to me, I pulled over and parked.  I walked to the intersection and introduced myself to the homeless young lady.  I found out her name –Vanessa – and I learned a little about her background, as well as the unfortunate turn of events that led to her ultimate homelessness.

I finally offered Vanessa some money, then offered to buy her groceries – both of which she politely declined.  I was just about to turn and walk away, believing I had obediently satisfied all that God required of me.  Then the Holy Spirit spoke once again.  “Offer to let her stay in your father’s house.”

‘Ok, now this is going way too far!’  My father had recently taken ill, requiring him to abandon the comforts of his plush suburban home in favor of the safety of a 24 hour nursing facility.  Dad’s home had been sitting vacant for months while I actively tried to sell it on the open market.

‘Ok, let me get this straight Lord.  Are you really telling me to house a homeless young lady that I know little about in my Dad’s nice, fully furnished house?  Seriously?  What about the risk? And where’s the evidence proving that this will be worth the effort and sacrifice?’

Despite all of my doubts and concerns – and the onslaught of ridicule and scorn received from family and friends – I moved Vanessa into my Dad’s house.

Over time Vanessa connected with my family, started going to church with us every Sunday, and eventually accepted the Lord as her Lord and Savior.

End of story, right?  Not so fast!

At the end of last year Vanessa and a companion stole all of the furniture and valuables out of my Dad’s house and disappeared into the night, providing my detractors and naysayers with the opportunity to loudly proclaim “I told you so!”

But as far as I’m concerned that’s still not the end of the story.  I believe the 4 months of Vanessa’s exposure to the Lord will not return void.  I believe the spiritual seed that was planted in Vanessa will ultimately take root.  But the evidence has yet to manifest, the skies are still clear and sunny.

God told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a great flood.  And Noah did.  But God never told Noah about the painstaking labor, the harsh scorn, or the 100 years to doubt and question.  However, Noah was faithful – then came the rains.

One day last year God told me to help a homeless woman standing on a busy intersection median.  But He never told me about the price that I would have to pay in doing so.  Though somewhat reluctantly, I too was faithful.

God wants our action, even before He supplies the evidence to justify it.  That’s what faith is, that’s what faith demands.

What about Vanessa?  Well, she has long since been completely forgiven.  God clearly has a plan for her life, and I’m honored to have played a small part in her divine restoration.  What about the stolen valuables?  Let me ask, what value can we place on one’s salvation?  I’ll gladly take that trade every time.

When God directs we should all take action, no matter how outlandish the command may seem, no matter how clear the skies may appear at the time.  Noah’s unwavering faith, and action without evidence, should serve as an example to us all.

So what’s my weather forecast concerning God’s faithfulness?  Heavy Rain!

Suggested Reading:

Seeing the Unseen

by Joe Beam

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