No matter how many times I read a familiar story from scripture, there's always some detail I've never given my attention, or some new lesson for this time in my life. Such is the story of Noah and his famous ark. Obedience that kept him right before God while the rest of humanity made God mourn. Faith that kept him building even while others scorned. Trust when water fell from the Heavens for the first time ever. Renewal of life when the ark opened and he and his family were given another chance.
That last part--the renewal Noah and his family were gifted--that's what came to my attention this go around in Genesis. Very fitting for the first month of the year.
And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. -- Gen. 8:13
Essentially how I'm choosing to read this is that on January 1, Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked around to see that the ground was no longer lost under water. But, Noah didn't jump into this new life, or this new year just yet. He stayed in the safety of the ark a little longer--he gave the ground a little time to dry up.
That's not how most of us do it, is it? We look back over last year and note all of the ways we didn't live our lives right. Maybe we look back on failures or trials and look forward to a new start, even if only symbolically. Then, we tell ourselves on January 1 that it's now or never and we jump in, prepared only with the vague knowledge that we want to do something different. Or we don't jump in and regret it and feel like we missed our big opportunity.
Your opportunity to make this year so much more than last is still waiting--as it should be.
Noah's story tells me that. On January 1 (please, if you know that "in the first month, the first day of the month" means something different, don't ruin this for me), Noah saw that the tragedy from the previous year was over. The evil was washed away, the horrific flood covering all of the earth was gone, and a strange peace welcomed them to this new land. He didn't step out of the ark until February 27 (stay with me folks) when God called Him out. (Gen. 8:14-19)
What did Noah and his family do for two months in the ark? They saw that the water was gone, but apparently the earth wasn't quite fully dried up yet. God wasn't yet calling them out of the ark. They had two more months to wait. Two months transition before starting their new life.
Isn't that a grace-filled way to start the new year? Whatever good intentions we have need some space to develop. We need time to hand our plans to God. To look back on the year and understand what we will be doing different. Take in our new surroundings in this season and pray about how God would have us live in this new setting.
Whether you've started resolutions this year or not, I encourage you to spend some time in the next month waiting for God. Seeking where He would have you go. Giving your plans to Him. Following Him out of the ark.