Just Look...

Just Look...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Part the Sunday School Teacher's Flannel Board Left Out

When the words from the 8th chapter of Genesis appeared on the screen as this morning's sermon context, I felt my brow furrow as I fumbled for my phone and swiped back a chapter. Yep, there it was: "The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days." Last verse of chapter 7. Before my pastor even started his sermon or I knew where he was going with it, I was already thinking to myself what a powerful message it was, the days of the boat just floating on the waters, no rain but also no land in sight. And I was also wondering how I had been a Christian for so long and somehow missed this part of the story.

When I think of Noah and the ark, I think of the days of humiliation and verbal abuse he likely took from those around him (thanks, "Evan Almighty", for making that part of the story vivid). I think of the strange and somewhat misplaced relief he probably felt when it actually DID start to rain, relief that quickly turned to dread and concern for his neighbors and even fear for himself and his family as the storm raged. I think of the forty days and forty nights of rain and thunder and lightning.

And then, I think of the end of the story. I have the same flannel board Sunday School memories of every other churched child of the late 70's and early 80's. He sent out the raven, then the dove, then the dove again and it returned with the olive leaf in its mouth, then the dove again and it didn't come back. And then of course the end of the story, the rainbow and the covenant God made with Noah and His people... but that's always where I have left it.

Today, as our pastor preached a message that made some of these points and a few others, I thought about those days on that ark, waiting on the water to recede. I don't know what it was like for Noah and his family because I didn't know Noah or his family, but I can tell you what it would have been like for me.

The long, hot days of building the ark while being taunted would have been very hard for me. I don't like public humiliation at all, I don't like to be out front, and I would have hated every second of that stage of the process. However, I think I could have kept it together and persevered.

I would have been strongest in the forty days and nights. I am one of those people who does very well in the moment of an emergency situation then falls apart afterward. My adrenaline will carry me very far, even in my fear, and it gives me strength.

Do you know when I would have fallen apart? In the 320 days after the rain stopped (apparently this number is highly debatable, give or take 20ish days, but I'm going with this number). I don't do well at all in the "almost, not yet" stage. In fact, I am basically helpless in that stage. It's not a lack of faith, either. Very seldom do I question God's deliverance. It's 100% a lack of control. Noah worked hard building that ark. I bet the days of the storm were busy ones where he calmed frightened animals, checked for leaks and rationed food and water. I do well when I have lots to occupy myself and can feel like I am making progress on something. It's the days of looking out the window, watching for mountaintops, hoping doves will find a place to roost that get to me. I can't imagine Noah walking the halls of that ark, day after day after day, somewhere around 320 of them, ready to start his life again post-ark and yet unable to do so.

I have a lot of our adoption story left to write and this story of Noah reminds me of the section of time of which I am least proud. In the days between the visa appointment (May 5) and our travel approval (June 6) and departure (June 8), I pretty much felt like I was going completely and totally crazy, and not the kind you laugh and joke about. The REAL kind. I was irritable, I was impetulant, I was illogical, I was insufferable. At the peak of what I call the insane period, I spent several days legitimately feeling like either everyone around me had lost their minds or, more likely, I had. I was angry, too. I felt jealous that that phase was faster and easier for others in the same process, I was mad that the timing had to be so challenging, and I was livid that I didn't understand the details of what was happening (or, in our case at that point, NOT happening). I paced this house like a caged lion, much like I imagine Noah paced the aisles of that ark. I remember one entire day (the girls were gone somewhere, I can't remember where) that I had so much I needed to do to pack for camp and the Philippines, things left to do in their bedrooms, and a house to leave clean, and all I did was sit on my bed and basically sulk.


I JUST. WANTED. THAT ARK TO FIND LAND (or more specifically, I wanted to land in the Philippines).

I lived in this period for one month and one day. Noah lasted a year. But whether it's the dismal failure that I was in that one month and one day or the unwritten description of Noah for that year, the Truth remains the same. God remembered. Genesis 8:1, the Scriptural context of my pastor's sermon today, says, "But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded." As my pastor stated today, God remembers us. And we will see the mountaintops again, no matter where we are.

If you are floating in that boat on the waters, having already weathered the storm and now being held captive in the "almost-not yet", this is the Promise for you, too. God remembers you. And one day, hopefully soon, those mountaintops will surface, that dove will return bearing Hope in its beak, and your feet will find dry ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment