August 5, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Genesis 8:20-22 (NRSV)
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humans, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.
“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night
shall not cease.”
After the destruction, God smells the aroma of an offering, and it gives us a hint of the scent of a time coming where there will be no more curse, no more destruction, and we will be an acceptable offering to God.
What do you do after destruction, when things have fallen apart to the point where they appear to be in disrepair? What do you do when the whole world falls apart and God has had enough? When disruption and destruction occur, it would seem reasonable to conclude that only death—the absence of God—is the result. In our workplace, neighborhoods, families, and elsewhere we certainly would love to avoid the disruption of a fallen world. But we have too much precedent from Scripture to know that this might not always be the case. When everything falls apart, we have to ask: does it do any good for others (or ourselves) to convey the message in word or deed that God is uninvolved, aloof, or unconcerned?
After the destruction of the whole world, we find two critical reminders for us when mishaps occur. First, we find that even though things are disrupted, Noah finds something to thank God with and for. In a real-life Kipling-esque “watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools,” Noah takes what he does have and offers it back to God. His actions acknowledged that after destruction Noah understood that all things come from him. It is what is from God that Noah gave back to God in the first place. Even when the entire world falls apart there is still something to give back to God. Under every good gift is gratitude (Job 1:21).
Second, we are reminded that after destruction God was still present. God did not ignore sin and the problems in the world. Nor did he linger in it or just remain angry (Psalm 103:9). God was not present in some ceremonial fashion or only in dogma. Rather he stood before all of humanity (a small number of people at the moment) and was present in a way to receive the offering. Genesis uses human attributes to describe God’s awareness of humanity’s offering. It was not a stench Noah offered; rather, it was pleasing.
When uncertain times come there will be questions. Will God be angry forever (Psalm 103:9)? Will he only curse humanity and the world (John 3:16)? Will he only remember our failure (Hebrews 8:12)? Can we ever offer anything acceptable to Him (1 Peter 2:5)? After the destruction God smells the aroma of an offering and it gives us a hint of the scent of a time coming where there will be another offering of a son—a time where there will be no more curse, no more destruction, and we will be an acceptable offering to God.
What do you think that Noah and the rest of humanity thought about God while they were on the ark?
What is your mind state when you see things falling apart around you and in your life?
Take some time to consider what you have to offer to God. Consider your relationships. capabilities, experiences, credentials, and resources. How could each one be offered to God? What does it look like? How does it show your gratitude to God when things are good or when disruption occurs?
God, I am thankful for your presence in any storm, loss, or disruption. You will not let your reputation be thwarted, but you also are mindful of humankind. After many days of flooding, seventy years of exile, two nights of uncertainty of the Savior in a tomb, we learn that you were still there. After the destruction, you remember us, and you accept what I have to give you even if no one else can understand its value. For your gracious presence I thank you, God.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1-19)
Subscribe to Life for Leaders
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.
DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.