The biblical account of Noah is found in Genesis 6-10, four short chapters, where a powerfully dramatic event is told in a very prosaic manner. We often overlook this story of God’s covenant with Noah, it may be that there are aspects that we are not comfortable with. The rise of wickedness in the world and the inclination of the human heart to evil, are not uplifting thoughts on the nature of humanity. God’s sorrow and His judgement to destroy all of His creation, are sobering reminders of the righteousness of God.
In ‘Not Knowing But Still Going’ Jocelyn-Anne Harvey uses the account of Noah’s ark, and the flood, as the framework to explore relevant themes for us today. The central message of the book is one of hope through uncertainty, of peace through acceptance, and finding joy with faith and trust in God. Noah found favour with the Lord, and we too are living in the time of God’s favour, with an invitation to respond to His mercy and grace.
Over twelve chapters, the book draws out of Noah’s story, a range of topics for spiritual growth. Each chapter closes with a prayer, as a response from our heart, and suggests three ‘chapter contemplations’ – thoughts to take away and study or reflect on some more. There are a few blank pages for you to journal and add your own notes.
The author starts by providing some background to the condition of the world prior to the flood. We are introduced to the main characters, and by giving those who are un-named fictional names they are fleshed out a little. Although the book is not so much about the individual people, but about their response to the circumstances of their lives.
Noah’s character is explored as an example of faithful service, as he and his family experience a period of waiting. In obedience to God, he builds an ark and they make provision for their journey. Through this waiting season, they choose obedience, above understanding, and are prepared to be different from those around them.
Noah and his family did not know the day when their journey would begin. They worked with that sense of soon, until suddenly God’s word came that in seven days it would start to rain. And they had no idea what ‘rain’ meant, it was beyond their experience. But, finally it was time to move. When they entered the ark they did not know how long they would be shut in, with danger all around, confined and restricted, with so many choices removed.
“The door had slammed shut on the ark. The world decreased from the macro to the micro.”Not Knowing But Still Going – Jocelyn-Anne Harvey
In a small measure this scenario has now become more relatable, following the lockdown periods of the last twelve months, due to the Covid virus. The author reflects on how ‘should’ we react, to a sudden and dramatic change in our circumstances. Those times when the future seems uncertain, and we are full of un-answered questions.
“When I hear ‘should’, it makes me feel like there is a judge pointing a finger at me. And I find myself not meeting the measure of what the word tells me and wonder what I should be doing to get there.”Not Knowing But Still Going – Jocelyn-Anne Harvey
There are many people more than willing to tell us how we should be feeling and what we should be doing in the middle of a storm. But only One who can take the weight of our worries and show us what we could be. This theme is developed, that there is hope for moving on and progressing with the Lord through unexpected and unprecedented times.
Waiting, and then waiting some more…
Although I knew this part of Noah’s story, I hadn’t reflected on it so much before, now of course it seems particularly relevant. The rain stopped after forty days and nights, but the rain stopping wasn’t the end of their journey. They experienced a season of waiting, not by choice, but an enforced wait where they had no control or influence over the waiting time.
We are not forgotten in our waiting season, that we can rest – yes really – while God works. That we can wait expectantly, joyfully, and eagerly, as we trust in the Lord, are just some of the thoughts explored and expanded on.
This was only chapter six….There was so much more, still to come, to challenge and reflect on:
- How do we react when we see a window of opportunity, a glimpse of something new?
- Do we trust in God’s perfect timing and wait on Him?
- Do we believe that faithful service brings opportunity to fulfil our potential?
- Are we prepared to adapt, some changes may be lasting and permanent?
‘A buoyant hope for uncertain times’
The story ends with a reminder that Noah was a person with weaknesses and failings, just like us. That this story is not about man’s faithfulness to God but instead about God’s faithfulness to us. A reminder that is needed for us today, as we live ‘as in the days of Noah’.
“The urges of the world to create a global, worldwide perspective is strident. The need for itself to be glorified. The pull to live by the flesh. Each generation may have felt it was living in difficult days, but it feels like our days are even harder.”Not Knowing But Still Going – Jocelyn-Anne Harvey
We need, more than ever, to be aware of the time that we are living in, but not to be alarmed. Sudden changes can and will come, storms will rage, but as we develop and grow our daily relationship with the Lord we can be assured of our safety and security in Him. The book concludes with an exhortation, that even when we don’t know how things are going to turn out, we can step forward with godly confidence and point others to an eternity with the Lord Jesus.
“It’s time to step out and shine.” Not Knowing But Still Going by Jocelyn-Anne Harvey.Tweet
Author Bio – Jocelyn-Anne loves the Lord, learning and literature. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, and her flash fiction has been published. Having taken the leap from her senior HR role in the UK Government, Jocelyn-Anne can identify with those walking through uncertain times, and she is passionate about supporting others through theirs and helping them develop. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in a coffee shop with friends, exploring coastal paths or trying out recipes.