Faith not Dooty
When assigning chores to my children, I followed all appropriate gender stereotypes and told my son to start scooping dog poop. I sweetened the deal by offering fifty cents per scoop. He, being brilliant, put up a brief fight and then found the smallest shovel he could. Two big dogs plus one small shovel, equals a lot of scoops and cold hard cash.
Lucky for me, what began as a lesson in responsibility turned to instant entertainment.
Once I clarified that he was to scoop it over the BACK fence and into the woods, not over the side fence into the neighbor’s yard; I was able to kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the show. Wandering the back yard, my son pulled the treasures into the trowel and attempted to send them over the cedar planks. Unfortunately his aim was terrible and the temperatures were below freezing. The scoops would hit the fence and come flying back at him, he would duck and dodge, shrug his shoulders and try again. I laughed until I cried. He forged on, all for the promise of fifty cents per scoop.
For over half my life I have heard the story of Noah’s ark told and retold. The same Hollywood dramatization is always added to the telling. Poor Noah was teased and ridiculed as he built this giant boat. Afterall, up to that point the Bible would suggest that it had never even rained before. Yet Noah remained faithful to God, despite his skeptics and mockers. Making Noah perhaps the most faithful man ever to have lived.
In fact, the Bible makes no mention of Noah being ridiculed for his boat building. And really, I am not convinced that he was. There is a reason that there are boat shows with bikini clad women stretched across the helm of a speedboat: boats are cool. When was the last time you made fun of the guy with the yacht? For centuries women have been wooed by a bottle of wine and a sailboat. People pay thousands of dollars to be stranded at see on a Cruiseliner.
Combine that with the fact that Noah was surrounded by a pile of wood, tons of tools, and a couple of white tigers just waiting to get in; and I am prone to think that Noah may have been the coolest guy on the block. It was by faith that he built the boat, but the building was not the test of his faithfulness.
Noah did not become the most faithful man ever to have lived when he got in the boat, nor when he was tossed at sea for forty days. His faithfulness was tested when the rain stopped and the ark anchored into the mountain with Noah and the animals inside. In that moment all the excitement ended, and all that was left to do was to wait. To wait and to shovel.
For 150 days, he sat trapped in the arc while the waters receded. It was like an Italian cruise with no french tugboat on the way. The ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, and there it sat for three more months. All the animals inside, and the piles piling up. Forty days later, Noah opened a window and sent out a raven, but the raven came back. Over the next two weeks he sent out a dove. Only when the dove did not return did he even open the door of the ark, then waited some more. More than one month later, God finally told Noah to leave the ark.
Faithfulness is the moment when our faith becomes so profound that we continue to live according to God’s promise even when it seems like he has stopped moving. Because it is often when the storm stops, when the world holds still, that everything piles up around us. Faithfulness scoops, when all there is to do is scoop.
It is easy to have faith because faith is exciting, faith is about building giant boats. It is hard to remain faithful because there is rarely glitz in faithfulness.
My life is in a holding pattern, and it’s piling up around me. I am learning to scoop, and realizing where my son got his scooping abilities. I am not always getting it over the fence, but I keep scooping. Not for the promise of fifty cents, but for the promise that God is preparing the land ahead for me. I am anxious for Him to call me out of the boat, but I am more anxious to hear him call me faithful.
Faith can move mountains, faithfulness can move God. One scoop at a time.