Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37.

Some things in life happen all at once, overnight, in the blink of an eye. Like lightning, they strike in an instant. You notice such things. They captivate your eye and attention. You can mark them by date. Like the birth of a child, 9/11, or a college graduation. You capture the moment in a mental photograph. Like a hard drive on your computer, you can revisit those times with amazing clarity. There are memories I have stored on my personal “hard drive” where I can describe what it smelled like, or what music was playing in the backdrop during the event. 

But other things are not so discernable. They sneak up on you. They go unnoticed because they happen gradually over time. Little by little, the progress is so slow you may not even be aware of any change. Most folks aren’t wired to observe these micro-changes and are oblivious to the gradual transformations — whether positive or negative.

While many in our country weren't paying attention, things became unhinged. Our world is no longer the world of our grandparents, or even our parents for that matter! Try describing to your kids what it was like just a few decades ago, for example. My parents never locked our doors. Why would they? Someone might need help and wouldn’t be able to get in. Today it’s the other way around! 

I had fun one day telling my kids about things such as the very first “designer” clothing. Remember those drab yellow jackets with the little alligator sewn on them? When I was a kid, there were only a handful of blue jean brands. There were no fancy labels on the back hip with someone’s name or slogan. The farmers wore a certain brand and the city-dwellers the other. And phones? We shared a “party-line” with three neighbors. People trusted in the integrity of their neighbors not to snoop and listen to their private conversations. Cell phones? Only Star Trek could do that. And an example of “racy” on television was Ginger on Gilligan’s Island. Fast forward just one generation. We find ourselves in an entirely different world — a world that's antagonistic to the church and even more disconnected from the Bible. Many of today's citizens are as biblically ignorant as those who lived in the Dark Ages!

In the same pattern, but on a much grander scale, we are watching a repeat of what happened long ago to the generations following Adam as they reached for a hero of faith, Noah. By the time Noah came on the scene, the godly had been whittled down to a very few. It wasn’t that they lacked godly ancestors. Enoch and many others carried the flame of Yahweh. It happened slowly, a little at a time. Gone was the desire to offer true sacrifices — the sacrifices our God demanded. As prayer became unnecessary, men and women became so selfish and carnal that their own children became less valuable than their own personal pleasures. Gradually, fathers failed to take the time and effort to pass their faith unto their sons, leaving them as easy prey to the enemies surrounding them. It became easier to just let it slide and just go with the flow of what was common and considered to be the new normal. If you remember nothing else today, remember this: You and/or your children can be swept away by an irresistible undertow unless your number one priority is, “fighting the good fight of faith!”

Outside of Jesus Christ — outside of presenting yourself as a living sacrifice and dying to your fleshly desires and nature daily — you are no match for your enemies. People line up for anything to do with self-improvement, but the line is very short that says, “This is the path to die to self.” Jesus came that we may have life, but His life. We say, “God, I’m trying so hard every day to be more like Jesus!” But the Lord is saying, “I want you to die so I can fill you with My resurrection life.” The carnal man gets everything backwards. It’s concept of freedom and good living is having all his rights protected, but true freedom can only come when we surrender all our own rights. Truth be said, often the Lord allows us to be hemmed in on every side to encourage us to take the plunge.

Matthew 24:37-39 tells us, “But as the days of Noah, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

As in the days of Noah, we are living in the days when many will abandon the true faith. One of the biggest threats to the church or to a believer is that the abandonment will come in inches, not miles. It’s so subtle it’s hard to notice. People will be deceived. That’s why Paul calls our enemies “deceitful.” By definition, when a person is deceived, they don’t know it. The devil is perfectly fine with religion as long as it has lost its emphasis on the completed work of Jesus Christ — His death and resurrection, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” 

Church, though the destruction from the flood was an event, the loss of love and dedication to Yahweh happened gradually, almost unnoticeable. This week the Lord has prompted me to write on the fact that we have been created for a purpose; as part of a living, functioning organism which is the Body of Christ; and we are to individually contribute as vessels of honor and as lights shining in a dark world. Pray this prayer with me if that is your desire.

Father God, in Jesus Name, forgive me where I have allowed the things of this world to creep into my life and in any way dilute the light you have called me to be. You promised to finish the work you started within me. You promise to perfect all that concerns me. Lord, it is no longer I that lives in this body. I was crucified with You. Your Word says it is now You that lives within me; both to will and to do Your good pleasure. Lord, may your church be the salt in the earth. May we be the peculiar people You have destined us to be so that others may see You in us and follow You. Lord, we give You permission to do whatever it takes. Do not allow us to slowly become more like the world, but rather let us stick out as lights in the darkness. Create in us clean hearts and renew a right spirit within us. We repent of any lukewarmness in our lives. As many fall away from the faith, make Your church a church of integrity — a church without guile or hypocrisy — so we can say like Paul, “Follow us as we follow Christ.” The path is broad that leads to destruction, and many will choose that easy path. But narrow is the path that leads to everlasting life. Jesus, we choose the narrows. Give us the grace to rise up from any misty lowland we may have been in for far too long. In Your precious name we pray. Amen.  

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His Kingdom; preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove; rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers who will approve their evil desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths and fables; lost and without God.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4.

Ruminate on that.