“Hope is an olive leaf–evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.”
Okay, I’m going to talk about A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado again and I’m not sorry about it. I will keep blogging about it until you read it (I’m only half-kidding). But, before you do, you should know this book will convict you out the wazoo. Okay? So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Anyway, it just so happened that today’s chapter was about HAVING HOPE…which ties into my previous post so OBVIOUSLY I had to share! In this specific chapter, Max Lucado talks about the hope Noah found after the flood through an olive leaf.
Are you familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark?
Basically, God was really mad at the humans. In Genesis 6:5, it says, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (emphasis mine).
But not Noah.
“Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord…[he] was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:8-9).
God tells Noah about his plan to send a flood and wipe out everything and everyone on the earth except for Noah, his family, and two of every creature (male and female).
He then tells Noah to build an ark.
Oh, and Noah is 600 years old at this point.
“So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks” (Genesis 6:14-16).
He does everything the Lord commanded him to do and he does it exactly how the Lord commanded him to do it (I’m 100% sure I would’ve let the snakes and mosquitos drown).
God opened the floodgates and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. After the rain stopped, the waters continued to flood the earth for 150 days (Genesis 7:24).
The water was so high, it covered the tallest mountains. There was no land in sight.
When the waters FINALLY began receding, Noah sent out a raven to see if there is dry land.
He sent out a dove.
“All [Noah] sees is water. Water to the north…water to the south. Water to the east.
You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You’ve known your share of floods. Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, stress at the office, anger at the disability in your body or the inability of your spouse. You’ve seen the floodwater rise, and you’ve likely seen the sun set on your hopes as well. You’ve been in Noah’s boat. And you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed some hope.”
Noah waited a week and sent the dove out a second time.
He wasn’t looking for some big, extravagant sign. He just needed SOMETHING, no matter how small or simple, that said, “Hey, God made a promise to you and he’s keeping that promise. Just wait.”
Any sign of land would suffice.
Finally, as evening began to fall, the dove returned…WITH AN OLIVE LEAF IN ITS BEAK!!!!!
Not only had the bird returned, but it had returned bearing proof of LIFE.
Things began looking up for ol’ Noah (literally…he was 601 by this point) and eventually the waters subsided completely and Noah and his family got off the ark.
There was some casual talk about being fruitful and not eating anything with lifeblood still in it (Genesis 9:1-7). Then God made a covenant with Noah and his family and promised to never flood the earth again. As a sign of that covenant, God stretched a rainbow across the sky (a technicolor promise, if you will).
And all was well in the world again.
In A Love Worth Giving, Lucado focuses on the olive leaf and the hope it brought to Noah. He writes,
“An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf–evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.”
I LOVE THAT LAST LINE.
Sometimes, we just need an olive leaf. We need something tangible to hold in our hands…an earthly way of knowing God is working and will keep his promises.
We’re not asking God to take our troubles away. We’re just asking for “proof of life” to remind us our efforts are not in vain…because it can be SO STINKIN’ HARD when, like Noah, we try to examine our circumstances but all we see is water.
And if I’m being totally honest, I’ve felt like this a lot lately. I love blogging and speaking, but sometimes I feel like I’m writing to air (and my mom). I’ll send email after email trying to find speaking opportunities and nobody will email me back. All I see is water.
You’re not alone in feeling hopeless, I promise.
In last week’s post I mentioned, “God is at work. Even when times are tough, even when your situation seems hopeless.”
My olive leaf came by way of Longview World of Wonders.
I don’t know how long the floodgates have been open and pouring into your life. I’m not sure how long you’ve been waiting and wondering if the waters will ever recede.
I don’t know what your olive leaf will look like, but I want you to know it’s out there. It exists. There is proof of life, and you will see it when the time is right.
Maybe not today or tomorrow (I didn’t see mine for SEVERAL MONTHS), but it will come.
So please don’t give up hope.
Not today or tomorrow. Not ever.
Hold out for an olive leaf.
Look for the rainbow of God’s promise.
You may be experiencing a flood right now, but the rain won’t last forever.
There is hope.
And when you find that olive leaf, cling to it tightly and don’t let go!
“Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one” (Max Lucado, A Love Worth Giving).