This week, my heart has been drawn to the familiar story of Noah found in Genesis 6-9. The account for many of us can be recalled in great detail from our childhood. The earth became extremely wicked, but Noah remained faithful. God gave directions for building an enormous boat that would save Noah and his family (as well as a couple of each animal created). The rains came….and came….and came…..until every imaginable inch of land was completely covered. Noah and his family exited the ark as they received God’s promise to never destroy the earth again by flood. The rainbow in the clouds will be a reminder of this promise for all time.
We know the story, but what caught my heart this week is what happened between the ark resting on the mountain and Noah’s ultimate safe exit from the boat. Genesis 8 tells of how the waters began to slowly subside until the ark was safely perched on the mountain. I’m sure Noah and his family began to think that they were safe at last! But they would still have to wait some 40 days before Noah would open the window and release a raven (Genesis 8:6). The raven found no place to land, so Noah released a dove in verse 8. Verse 10 tells us that “He [Noah] waited another seven days….” before sending the dove out again. This time the bird returned with an olive leaf in her beak. Verse 12 follows a similar pattern: “Then he waited another seven days….” The released dove did not return and Noah knew it was time to leave the ark.
Can you imagine? Noah and his family had been in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Then they floated around for another 150 days! Once they landed on Ararat, they waited another 40 days before opening the window! Have you done the math yet? That’s approximately 7 or 8 months on the boat. I don’t know about you, but I would be going stir crazy. I would want to get away from the smelly animals. I would want to see something other than water. I would want to hear less of my complaining family members. I would want off of this boat! Noah was probably no different either.
Can you imagine the temptation Noah faced when he felt the ark hit dry ground? “Since we’ve settled on the top of this mountain, SURELY God is telling me it is okay to open the door and escape the dark confines of the ark. After all, God gave the plan for our salvation and protected us through the storm. He would not bring us this far to allow us to be hurt.” What would have happened if Noah had left the ark when it seemed the danger was over in his own opinion? SPLASH!!! Noah would have gotten very wet and found himself surrounded by rapidly moving water just as dangerous as the situation from which God had already delivered him.
Sound familiar? How many times in our own lives do we experience God’s provision of protection from a storm that threatens to bring us harm? The storm may be a literal weather occurance or a personal attack from a trusted companion. While we are so thankful for God’s care and love for us while the storm is at its height, we cannot wait to once again feel as though we alone are the master of our own destiny….so we begin to take control again right away rather than waiting for God to declare that the storm has completely passed and it is safe for us to move forward. We trust our own limited vision of the situation rather than continuing to depend on God’s perfect view of our lives. If you are anything like me, you have found yourself splashing around in some dangerous waters of life on a few occasions because you didn’t want to wait any longer. You had weathered the storm with God’s help and now it was time to move on.
I’m so thankful for the reminder from Noah’s story that when the lightning from the storms of life stops flashing, it is still in my best interest to remain safely in the ark until God tells me it is safe to move! The ark was a place of safety, protection, and rest for Noah. While the ark’s passengers were patiently waiting week after week for God to give the ultimate ok to exit the ark, they were getting their land legs back. In other words, God knew that they would face a new situation as soon as they left the ark’s safety; He was lovingly using the extra time in the ark to prepare them for what was ahead. When God provides safe passage for us through life’s storms, He provides us with the same safety, protection, and rest. That’s a loving God who knows what is best for His children in every situation because He knows exactly what lies ahead! We are wise when we don’t fight against His protection as soon as we think we are ready to leave the ark. Wait patiently for Him to bring you safely through the flood to a place of worship and life.
Lord, thank you for the protection you provide from life’s storms. Help me not to rush out of the ark that you provide, but to linger there with you as you prepare me for what is ahead while keeping me from drowning in the uncertain currents that continue to swirl outside of your protection.