When God was finished with creation he looked at it and it was very good. One should note that “very good” in God’s eyes is indeed – very good. So it went on for a while like this, until one day God gave another look to creation, but this time the picture was different. This time the Lord did not rejoice, but instead “he was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6, NIV). He decided to wipe away what he had made, but Noah found favor in His eyes. So he spared him. This went on for a while until one other day the Lord said to Noah and his sons “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11, NIV).
I cannot help but wonder what went through God’s “mind” between the time of completing creation and the events of Genesis 6. Even more – what changed from Genesis 6 to Genesis 9? There’s little we can know about it, besides that God set off on a mission – a mission that’s one of a kind.
See, when, let’s say your TV breaks down and you want to continue watching TV – you have two options. Either repair it or get a new one, the latter being the more convenient, easier one. While the flood was God’s way of starting all over again – more convenient and certainly quicker, his covenant with Noah and later on with many others is rather astonishing. He basically said “I won’t get rid of you, but will do whatever it takes to fix you up – make you look good again; as good as you were when I first looked at you.” This might also seem easy until you grasp the scale of the repair that needed to be done. Consequentially, that decision didn’t come at no expense for God. The toll was the death and resurrection of His Son – a rather high price, but as I said – a lot needed fixing.
Today we look at the story and it changes our lives. We get closer to it and realize – we’re invited to participate in it; to fellowship with God, to be part of his repair team. Little do we know about the task ahead of us, but that doesn’t seem to stand on our way of getting matters in our own hands. Yes, Jesus did say to go and teach, disciple and love, but He never said we ought to do it alone. Just because we have the manual doesn’t mean we know how to make everything work again. Neither are we capable of making this even remotely possible… without God’s enduring, faithful and loving leading. Reverse-engineering is not an option here.
We set off building churches and raising communities back on their feet until one day we (as inevitable as it seems) fail. It’s one of those devastating moments when we think “It’s all gone in vain; we messed up so big, there’s no hope of recovery.”
Because we believe we’re the ones who can make things look good again. We seem be deep in the belief that if we don’t do it – it can’t be done. Therefore, when we failed, it all failed.
But not God’s mission – it’s a different kind of a mission. It’s first of all – God’s mission in which we’re just participants. He initiated it, he sustains it, he envisions it, he guides it… he completes it. Period.
Take Jonah for example – God called him to fellowship with him, to participate in making things look good. He ran away. God shook him up on that ship, woke him up to the reality – he did repent and spoke words of hope and thanksgiving. So God thought – I might was well use him anyhow and called him a second time. As hesitant as we often are, Jonah set off to do the work. He didn’t only end up doing 1/3 of what he should have done, but he didn’t even do this right. Yet, this didn’t stop God from bringing the people of Nineveh to repentance.
So could we get it right for once? Can we look at our mission as what it really is – God’s mission? Can we endure the failure while standing on our feet with sheer confidence that what God has started God will finish? We’re not in this to win, it’s not a race. It’s a marathon and we’re in to finish.