Monday, August 17, 2015

Noah and the Flood (Part 1)

It's been nearly three years since I first began reading the Genesis account of the flood. I can't tell you the number of times I've read Genesis 6-9. Each time the Lord has pulled back a little more of the curtain to help me see and understand the account in a way I never imagined. 

He is developing an image in me of the story that I'm still praying out. I hesitate to use the word "story" because this is not fiction. It is a spiritually-inspired retelling of the Scriptural account. 

What you are about to read is what the Lord is birthing in me. I have no idea how long the process will take. I'm not in charge. I'm simply the vessel that is blessed to be used and I am looking forward to the journey. 

It was a nice breezy morning. Noah was sitting under the tent’s awning and watching his grandchildren. He had great grandchildren. He had great, great grandchildren. He had great, great, great grandchildren. (I could go on but this would really slow down the telling of this story.) The older ones were playing games; some of the younger ones were playing what looked like a game of tag while others watched their fathers feed the animals.

Noah smiles. He begins to daydream.

It has been more than 100 hundred years since he and his family and the animals had left the ark. He still remembers the grinding sound the doors made as the Lord opened them more than a year after He had closed them. Everyone, including the animals, stood in amazement watching the doors open by themselves. It took nearly a half an hour for the doors to open completely and seconds for the air from the outside rushed in. It smelled so sweet. It felt wonderful to the skin. But oh was it cold!

Noah remembers how orderly the animals had been during the days when they walked into the ark. But now, it was all he and his family could do to get out of the way of the stampede as the animals, in all their excitement, made a mad dash for the outdoors.

The animals missed the outdoors – just like Noah and his family.

The ark had been their home – their sanctuary, their covering – for more than a year. As they left the ark, Noah and his family saw a world they didn’t recognize. There was a newness. Or was it simply, he mused, a restoration? It looked nothing like the world they had seen every day while building the ark. All of the buildings were gone. The familiar landmarks were gone. The rivers somehow seemed to be out of place. They were flowing in a different direction.

That’s when it really hit him: the old world is gone.

This new world was empty. There was a sense of sadness as he looked at his wife, his sons and their wives. There is only eight of us now, he thought to himself. Eight of us. No other people. Just animals and fish – lots and lots of fish. A thought that causes Noah to smile.

But what he noticed most was the noise. The noise seemed to be amplified. Not only could he feel the breeze of the wind and smell its freshness – Noah could hear it. It seems like his ears were hearing anything that moved. The rustling of the leaves. The ground cracking under his feet as he walked. The water beating against the rocks as it hurried down from the mountains. The distinctive sounds of the insects. He could even hear the ark as it settled into the ground. And the chirping of the birds – man were they loud!

He remembers yelling “Thank you Lord!” and hearing his words echo far into the distance. “Thank you Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord.” The Lord was right; the human race was starting over.

One hundred years, he thinks to himself. “My God, has it really been that long?” Noah turns his head towards the mountains of Ararat. He sees the hull of the ark. It is still fully intact. The vegetation is beginning to cover most of it. Noah thinks to himself “Pretty soon we will not be able to see it and no one will know it’s there.” After all this time he still looks at the ark in amazement. “We built that. Me and my boys,” he thinks with a sense of satisfaction and also a sense of great sadness.

“The ark,” he sighs and says in a soft whisper. “It was built for so many, so many. Why didn’t they listen to me?” It’s a question that still haunts him. For 100 years he talked about the coming destruction. For 100 years he pleaded with his family to repent and join him. But they refused to believe that the world they knew would be ending.

Noah was a preacher of righteousness but the people only heard the rantings of a crazy man, a fool. Who, in their right mind, would believe God was going to destroy the world? They refused to believe that outside the ark there would only be death. Even his sons were not thoroughly convinced.

A hand touches his shoulder. Noah looks up and sees his wife and smiles. He always smiles when he sees his beloved. That’s what he calls her: my beloved. “It’s time,” she says. Noah turns to his right and sees his family walking toward the open meadow. Most were already gathered there and seated.

For the past 100 years, the family has gathered together to hear great, great, great grandpa Noah tell the story about the old world and why God judged it. The little ones, especially, get really quiet when he talks about what it was like to live with all the animals on the ark. (Noah will never admit it, but that’s his favorite part too.)

Noah gets up slowly from his seat, staff in hand. He doesn’t move as quickly as he used too. His steps are a little more deliberate. After all, he is 701 years old now and he’s not as spry as he was a hundred years ago. He chuckles to himself just thinking about it.

By the time he arrives, Noah’s sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth – have gotten everyone seated. It seems like every inch of the meadow – as far as the eyes could see – is covered with people, blankets and animals. As Noah walks toward his seat, Shem gently takes his right arm and Japheth his left. They steady their father as he makes his way up the slight incline toward his seat.

His sons had chiseled a huge boulder into a flat block of stone for their father about three feet high and four feet long. As Noah told the story the first time, they could see the difficulty he had standing, even when leaning upon his staff. Noah finished the story that day sitting on a mound that was slightly elevated but everyone couldn’t see him.

Shem, Ham and Japheth worked on the boulder off and on for nearly a year. They were determined to have it ready by the time their father told the story again. Noah slowly sat down on the stone, which was layered with fresh hay and blankets. His sons wanted him to be as comfortable as possible because they knew he would not rush the telling of the story – a story they knew first hand and oh so well.

(To be continued)