A Life Lesson from Noah: Patience
I visited my granny a few months ago. It was a special occasion, as she lives a few states away, and we don’t often see each other more than once a year. The food was great, and playing hours of Scrabble was bearable. The only hiccup of the trip came when Granny retired for the evening, and I opened my laptop to check my email.
I selected the wireless network, put in the password she had written down on a post-it, and connected. I logged into Gmail. I waited. My email appeared. I clicked an email and waited. Another two minutes passed. While scanning down the list, I clicked another email by accident. Another two-minute wait. Six minutes for one-and-a-half emails? I half-contemplated ditching Granny’s for a Starbucks.
And that compulsion to leave my granny in search of faster Internet made me pause and reflect. I’ve noticed that as my Internet has gotten lightning fast, my life has likewise sped up. My pace of life seems to have gone from a slow stroll around the park to a full-on sprint to a very elusive finish line. I get impatient when the restaurant server doesn’t bring my food within ten minutes of ordering it, and when I have to wait more than five minutes for a reply to my texts. I realize not everything can be lightning-fast, but it’s tough to not expect it.
Noah’s ark has become a personal place of reverie to snap me out of my impatience. Upon first mention in Genesis, Noah is listed as 500 years old (Gen 5:32). When the flood comes, Noah is 600 (Gen 7:6). Seeing as he was building the ark during that time, I’ve been impressed by two points: 1) Noah must have been a healthy, healthy guy to be building an ark at 500; and 2) 100 years is a long time to build an ark. Some scholars even say it took 140 years. Homework assignments that took longer than an hour used to prompt a similar reaction as slow-Internet service. The ark was the ultimate homework assignment. Thankfully, Noah passed.
The story of Noah and his ark provides a good reality check. The story would have lost something if God had provided the ark and said, “Hop in!” Oftentimes the best miracles require a little manual labor and self-help. Add to that a good attitude: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12:12 NIV).
Noah has inspired me. If he could patiently pour focus and attention into a one hundred-year homework assignment, I can probably be more patient when looking at email. I enjoy my high-speed Internet and my high-speed life. Yet, it’s good to remember that some things are better left in the slow-lane: “Love is patient and kind” (I Cor 13:4). I’ll be leaving my laptop at home next time I visit my granny, and I’ll eliminate the stopwatches from our Scrabble games.