Genesis 7:17-19, 23-24
The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered…Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.
But what happened? We spend all this time focusing on the ark—how to build the ark, what goes in the ark, what the ark did when the rain came—what actually happened those one hundred fifty days? What do you do when you’re crammed on an ark with a bunch of animals and some family members that maybeyou get along with?
The Bible loves to gloss over moments, and I always wonder if it’s an unfortunate downside or an intentional opportunity. We could have every day of Noah’s journey itemized in a great Genesis itinerary (and Genesis is not above tedious accountings of minutiae, just ask Chapter 5), but instead we just move on to what happened once the clouds had parted and the waters had dried up. Are we to just go with the flow, so to speak, or is God giving us an opportunity?
In our lives we always power through to those moments that the clouds part and the waters recede. We don’t like to spend time in the ark. And that makes sense. Nobody wants to be lost floating in a sea of trouble, with leviathans circling in the deep beneath, waiting for the ships of our lives to spring a leak. We shouldn’t have to linger in the soiled pens with the animals, unsure whether there will ever even be another sunrise, let alone dry land on which to steady ourselves. But sometimes our desperate yearning to be out the other side of those long dark nights of our souls can do more harm to us than good.
We have faith that God will see us through, and that there will be sun once again shining on our face… but if we page-turn through Genesis too fast we may miss what actually happens on the ark. I like to imagine all the card games that family played. All the long nights spent planning what kinds of crops they will plant in their new farms, and what the menu for their first feast will look like. I picture little ones playing with lambs and puppies and sloths as the world beyond fades into the background. I think about the ways that the members of Noah’s family must have grown and changed through those one hundred and fifty days. How did they keep sane, and how did they thrive?
This gap in Genesis 7 gives us the freedom to apply ourselves to that moment. To that ark. And maybe it gives us a chance to face our own dark and stormy nights with the same strength, growth, and reflection that Noah’s family must have. If they can step out of that ark changed for the better, so can we.
Exercise:Take 60 seconds to imagine what a night in the ark with Noah’s family might have looked like. Maybe even try to draw it.
Prayer:Loving God, you were with Noah’s family when the waves crashed around them. Be with me when the storm waters rise, and help me to find all the joy, comfort, and growth there is to be found, so that the sun may rise on a new me. Amen.
Song I’m listening to these days: “Bus Stop,” by The Hollies.
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