“Pairs of all creatures that have the breathe of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:15 -16
Sometimes obedience doesn’t look the way you want it to look. You dreamed of open doors, opportunities and an open heaven. The open door was an ark, a design from God, but even as you built it you didn’t know what was ahead. Still you built it, you walked with God and you followed his plan. You gathered, you stored up, you took the path that no one around you understood. You taught your family that with God at the centre all would work out.
The day when the opportunity came nothing made sense. Everything you heard was contrary to what you had believed for your life. The words hung in the atmosphere and you were unable to decode them or make sense of them. Surely your God wouldn’t let this happen? Then He opened the heavens and even that was not what you imagined. Instead of light and clarity, the sky grew dark and the wind whirled all around you.
As you watched through the window your life flashed before you, in the same way people say it does when you are dying. You watched as every word you had held onto, all that had been recorded in your book, came loose at the binding. The rain came and the ink of the pages ran. It filled all the gutters on all the streets until the life you once knew was erased. The waters rose. They carried you upwards and yet nothing about it was uplifting.
To the best of your ability you had lived your life obediently. You had made prayer and repentance your pattern. You had lived by the code of what was required, following after the design that had been laid out for you.
“Every living thing that moved on the earth perished…
Everything on dry land that had breathe of life in its nostrils died…
Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out…” (Genesis 7:21, 22, 23)
It is stated this way in the New International Version, three times just in case you don’t get it the first time. Did God cease to care about your life?
Still, you moved forward with the waves on the sea, allowing them to take you. What else could you do? You had no choice but to trust. Your life was at His mercy.
“Have your way, have your way,” you sang. The words stripped the lining of your diaphragm and when they came out of your mouth at full volume, your throat grew sore.
Behind you the door wedged tight because God had shut you in.
It was dark in the ark. You wondered how long. You wondered what life would look like when this was over. Would it ever be over? You didn’t speak these questions out loud. There was plenty to keep you busy. The work of survival is an onerous task. People were looking to you for answers not more questions. So you anchored your thoughts within you. You felt the weight of them in your core and you cried out to God to show you. He in His faithfulness came. He walked with you in the shadows. His whisper was heard above the howling of the beasts that surrounded you, the creaking of the fragile vessel that contained you and the cries of the lost, muffled in the ocean. Every sight, every sound haunted you but you could be still for you knew He was God. You would not drown.
Over time, you adapted to the rhythm of the ship. The way it swayed you, the way it moved you, no longer felt surreal. Then one day the movement stopped and you wondered how you would exist again on dry land. As the mountains become visible you sent out the raven. Like a dark thought it lead you nowhere. It didn’t come back.
You imagined it feasting on the carcasses of the dead.
This brought you more sorrow,
It messed with your head.
All the anguish and the questions returned.
Oh help me God,
Your thoughts still churned.
Coupled over and confused your God visited you.
You felt the warmth of His tender hand on your shoulder
“It is not over.”
He pulled you close to Him in the dark
He let you cry and speak and grieve.
None of it was easy.
Then when you were done crying
He placed Truth, Gentleness, Comfort, Counsellor, Advocate, in your hands, it was a type of what was to come.
He took you back to the opening at the highest point of the ark. The first time you released Him, He returned but seven days later, when you released Him again, He did not return empty handed. This time He returned with an olive leaf and you knew that as hard as things had been, your God had not abandoned you. That He would rebuild your life.