For many Cedar Rapidians, the images of a flooded Houston bring back painful memories of 2008 in Iowa. Or even 2016 as the city braced again for possible flooding. As we reflect on how the city really came together during those times and we saw love demonstrated beyond what we could imagine, we spent some time in prayer today as a staff looking at the story of Noah and his famous ark. And while I’m not sure we can even conjure up an idea of how horrible the smell must have been on that boat after being shut up for about a year, I think there are even more important things to consider.
As Beth, our prayer leader for the day, led us through the scripture, I wondered about how the family got along during that time…shut up with no sun, no fresh air for so long. I mean, I love my siblings and their spouses but that was waaaay longer than a holiday weekend. It is only through the grace of God all the humans survived the trip, let alone the animals. But then Beth read us a devotional which pointed out maybe Noah’s response to God wasn’t as radical as we imagine it to be. Wait, what? Did she really just say building a huge ship on dry land and trying to convince people there would be a huge flood and the world would be wiped clean was not radical? Now, Beth is typically the voice of reason in the Development area but I was worried she might have hit her head or something. How could the idea of going against all his neighbors and convincing his sons to gather the animals of the Earth to get on a huge boat not crazy? Why did she think this was just a normal day for Noah?
I tried to keep my mouth shut and Beth continued. Noah had a settled heart. He had decided his faith was in God and because of that, he would trust God. The past had taught Noah God was for him and he would obey God because He was there for only good. Noah was convicted. His natural instinct was to follow the word of God and for him, there was no alternative. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t that powerful? Noah was so strong in his faith, he didn’t even consider anything else. He was going to do as God commanded and that was the end. Aren’t you kind of jealous? I am. I feel like if I was Noah, I would have been googling the odds of a flood and thinking about other options, asking God if He was sure this was a super idea. I would have questioned just about everything about the plan…a year…on a boat…with a bunch of animals and my family? Are you sure, God?
As I pondered how it would be difficult for me, how I often times feel like my faith is something fragile I need to protect with bubble wrap…I thought about my son. And while I do want him to follow what God calls him to, I also want him to be able to ignore what is not of God. I want him to be so strong in knowing what is good and right he won’t be swayed to do something that will harm him or anyone else. I want my 13-year-old son to say no to drinking and sex because it isn’t God’s best for him. I want him to treat girls with respect even if they send inappropriate SnapChats. I want his faith in the Lord to be so strong that making bad choices isn’t an option. Now, I am not a crazy person who thinks my son won’t screw up. He will. But isn’t it wonderful that I can show him a story about a man who was so grounded in his faith, so firm in his beliefs, that the right thing didn’t seem radical? Isn’t it awesome that God gave me a story about having a settled heart?
The story of the ark isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I bet there were days on the ship that weren’t pretty. The smells and the noise and the togetherness had to be awful some days. And isn’t that ultimately like being in middle school? (Seriously, the noise and the smells have to be similar.) There are the icky moments of being put down because you didn’t go to the party and drink. There are mean moments of being called names because you won’t go along with the poor choices your friends are making. And for some kids, there is bullying that break the hearts and spirits of young people. But my hope is that if my son has a faith that is strong, if he knows he was fearfully and wonderfully made, if he knows the love of the Father, these things should pass away. He will make mistakes but my hope is he will learn from those mistakes and his heart will grow more and more settled.
Director of Development