Noah was commended for being righteous, blameless in his generation, and for walking with God (Genesis 6:9). Walking with God seems to be the climax of the list. Not only did he live an upright life, not only was he a bright spot in a corrupt and wicked generation, but he actually walked with the Living God, a very high compliment in Scripture. But what does it mean to walk with God?
The word walk is used in the Bible for a person’s lifestyle. Some of our newer translations simply use the word live. For instance, Galatians 5:16 is sometimes rendered: Live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). A literal translation is: Walk by the Spirit. By using the picture of walking we get the idea that our spiritual life is going somewhere. So we can ask: What is the next step in following the Lord?
To live a godly life in an ungodly world was only one step in Noah’s spiritual life. God challenged him to take the next step: to build an ark. If Noah was trying to blend in and stay out of sight, he was in for a surprise. You cannot hide a 450-foot-long, 75-foot-wide, 45-foot-high ark. In order to walk with God, Noah had to do something that would make his faith very public, very noticeable.
Building the ark must have taken many years of hard work. Surely Noah got used to the routine. In addition to all the things he did before, he now had to find time for building that massive floating box. But all the things he did before were still there, providing some continuity. Then, when the ark was finally finished, it was time to take another step of faith, the next step in walking with God.
God instructed Noah to enter the ark with his family. Once inside, God himself closed the door. It’s one thing to build the ark, but it is something else to go inside and leave the past behind. Everything changed for Noah when he took his family inside that ark. God unleashed the flood, and with it his judgment on a wicked and rebellious world. Noah’s life would never be the same.
Noah understood that walking with God meant leaving his comfort zone and following the Lord into the unknown. He knew that he could trust God, even though it meant losing what was familiar to him. Trying to stay in the previous stage of faith would have been a disaster for Noah. He was not called to build arks, but to build one ark and to entrust himself and his family to that one ark. He had to find the courage to take the next step.
What is the next step of faith for me? for you? If we are going to walk with God, then we will be called on by God to move forward one step at a time, not to stand still. Occasionally we will face a step that requires great faith on our part because it means leaving familiar things behind and going on to something new and unprecedented.
Perhaps the Lord is calling you to take the next step of faith by doing something new. To stand still would be like Noah refusing to enter the ark, or to leave it when the time came. Obedience will keep your spiritual life healthy and vital. Jesus is calling us to follow him, one step at a time, hand to the plow, not looking back, and fit for service in the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
May God’s Spirit inspire and enable us to follow Jesus every step of the way,
Brother Richard Foster