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2018 03p1God sees us

In parts of South Africa, the accepted greeting is “Sawubona”, which translated literally, means “I see you” . The recipient of these words will reply “Ngikhona”, meaning “I am here” The exchange signifies something much deeper than a polite “hello”: more an acknowledgement and recognition of mutual understanding, respect and an upholding of each other’s unique spirit.
As individuals, we long to be truly seen, recognised and understood; to be deeply known and to know another. We long for someone to completely “get us”. We often look for that to be fulfilled in another person, and yet even our closest friend cannot know us; cannot “see us” as God does.
In the story of Noah, God sees the extent of human wickedness; “how the earth had become corrupt and is full of violence.” (Genesis 6:11)
God sees his people but they do not see him, nor acknowledge him.

I wonder…how can we slow down, to each allow ourselves to see God and be seen by Him, so that we in turn can reach out and truly acknowledge each other with the words “Sawubona” and be happy to respond “Ngikhona”?

God favours

God intervenes to rescue and repair the world through the one person who is left, still able to see God and say to Him “I am here.”
“Noah found favour with the Lord…was a righteous man…and he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6: 8-9)
2018 03p2Despite the wickedness surrounding him, Noah does not allow the situation to mar his vision. He habitually and faithfully keeps his eyes on God, his footsteps alongside God, walking with Him, as it says in many translations. Through Noah’s faithfulness, God is able to work with him to implement a plan to rescue his creation.

I wonder…how closely are we walking with the Father? Are we so close to God that we could say “Lord, I am here”, if He chose to favour us and partner with us? Would we be in the right place to experience the grace of God’s rescue plan through our contribution where we each live?

God protects

At first sight, God’s rescue plan seems insane. He confides to Noah that He will “destroy all living creatures, ” and that in the midst of dry land, Noah is to build a large boat and collect pairs of all living animals to put on it before God sends an epic flood to destroy the rest of the earth. Faithful Noah does not seem to bat an eyelid. He just obediently gets on with what he has been asked to do. “Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22 & 7:5, 9, 16)
Noah follows through, 2018 03p3implementing the practical detail that God provides step by step, unquestioningly… and he keeps on doing this until the job that God gave him is complete. In response to Noah’s obedience, God protects him and his family, by closing the door of the ark against the rising flood waters.

I wonder… How willing are we to listen to all that God requires of us? Are we prepared to look foolish? Can we be obedient to God, no matter how counter-intuitive his request may seem? Can we trust in Gods protection, in the face of adversity?

God remembers
After 5 months of being cooped up in a wooden boat with the stench of every animal imaginable , Noah’s family must have been doubting his sanity. Yet just when they must have felt like giving up, the Bible says that “God remembered Noah”. (Genesis 8:1) Noah’s faith is rewarded by visual clues around him that the waters are receding and that God’s promises to him are being fulfilled. It surely would have been all too easy to leave the boat too soon rather than await further instructions from God, yet patiently Noah continues to wait for another 5 months before God gives clear instruction that it is safe to leave the ark.

I wonder…how faithful are we in waiting for God’s timing? How easy it is to get things wrong and be sidetracked from God’s path for us, when we give up on the waiting and make plans to go our own way, thinking that God has forgotten about us, before God has shown us His way.

God blesses

There were many things that Noah could have done the moment that he was able to escape from the ark, but still faithful…and thankful, the first thing that he does once all are safely disembarked, is to build an altar and give thank offerings to the Lord. In response, God makes a covenant promise to Noah that the earth’s seasons will continue to afford opportunity for planting, fruitfulness and harvest. God blesses Noah and his family and tells them to be fruitful.

I wonder…after completing a long hard journey in life, or finally receiving what we have long awaited, do we recall how God brought us through? Do we remember to give thanks for God’s blessing in our lives…or, in the good times, forget how God has guided us through the dark times?

God keeps covenant promises

As with so many parts of God’s rescue plan for his people, this part ends with a covenant with Noah “and with all living creatures, for all generations to come” (Genesis 9:12) This rainbow sealed covenant is a promise for us too, that God will never again allow “the floodwaters to destroy all life”.
By grace, God rescued Noah, brought him through the flood to a place of safety and blessed him with a new life. How much more is our blessing through the New Testament covenant of Jesus death and resurrection?

I wonder…can we accept the grace that God shows us through the greatest covenant of all, that is sealed with the death and resurrection of Jesus…and a promise of new life? Can we marvel at the journey from death to life and walk in obedience to God as Noah did?

Textile explanations

2018 03p4The textile art here, is entitled “Noah” and is the first in a series of pieces exploring God’s grace through characters in the Bible. The background is divided into 4 parts, with respective seasonal colours representing God’s affirmation of the continuation of seasons and his provision after the flood. The centre contains the mast and planks of the ark, formed into the shape of a cross that indicates both God’s plan of grace for Noah now and the future offer of grace made through all on the cross. At the foot of the cross is a door, showing how God closed the door of the ark and kept Noah and his family safe. It also references the place (wherever that may be) that God has shut us in, for our own protection, safety & sanctuary. This is further explored in my previous piece “Hemmed In”. The base of the picture contains layers of fabrics and stitch that depict the flood: the “deep waters” that all of us go through at some point in our lives. The footsteps tell of Noah’s close walk with God and encourage us to walk closely with the Father. The dove and olive branch continue to reference the story of Noah, with the curved olive branch on the right arcing through the seasons, alluding to the deep symbolism of the olive tree throughout the Bible and hinting at the crown of thorns to come. Multi-coloured threads represent the covenant rainbow.

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