This is the transcript of my Going Deeper devotions for today. If you want to see the video it is here:
8 God had not forgotten Noah and all the animals with him in the boat; he caused a wind to blow, and the water started going down. 2 The outlets of the water beneath the earth and the floodgates of the sky were closed. The rain stopped, 3 and the water gradually went down for 150 days. 4 On the seventeenth day of the seventh month the boat came to rest on a mountain in the Ararat range. 5 The water kept going down, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared.
6 After forty days Noah opened a window 7 and sent out a raven. It did not come back, but kept flying around until the water was completely gone. 8 Meanwhile, Noah sent out a dove to see if the water had gone down, 9 but since the water still covered all the land, the dove did not find a place to light. It flew back to the boat, and Noah reached out and took it in. 10 He waited another seven days and sent out the dove again. 11 It returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. So Noah knew that the water had gone down. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent out the dove once more; this time it did not come back.
13 When Noah was 601 years old, on the first day of the first month, the water was gone. Noah removed the covering of the boat, looked around, and saw that the ground was getting dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
15 God said to Noah, 16 “Go out of the boat with your wife, your sons, and their wives. 17 Take all the birds and animals out with you, so that they may reproduce and spread over all the earth.” 18 So Noah went out of the boat with his wife, his sons, and their wives. 19 All the animals and birds went out of the boat in groups of their own kind.
Noah Offers a Sacrifice
20 Noah built an altar to the Lord; he took one of each kind of ritually clean animal and bird, and burned them whole as a sacrifice on the altar. 21 The odor of the sacrifice pleased the Lord, and he said to himself, “Never again will I put the earth under a curse because of what people do; I know that from the time they are young their thoughts are evil. Never again will I destroy all living beings, as I have done this time. 22 As long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest. There will always be cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”Genesis 8:1-22
In theory I love boat trips. I love any kind of water, and who wouldn’t want to be on it?. The problem is I do not like rough water – and by rough water I include taking a ferry across the Mersey, the car ferry to the Isle of White or the short hop from Dover to Calais… The Channel Tunnel was built especially for me so that I no longer had to brave the boat trip. I can just about survive a harbour trip if it doesn’t go outside the harbour wall but much prefer a river or canal trip.
We will not even speak of the night ferry to the Isle of Man in 1970 – it still haunts me to this day. And least said soonest mended about the time I made my family drive the entire length of the North France coast, past the port that we had a return crossing booked and paid for from, to the Channel Tunnel to pay the exorbitant drive-up price for a single ticket, and then drive back through Kent – because the outward trip was more than enough and I had seen the weather forecast for the journey home and was having none of it.
So, I think I would not have done well in the ark with Noah and his family. I would have been desperate for journey’s end. I would have been begging, “are we nearly there yet?”, please can I get off, or is there a non-boat alternative.
As I read this passage it occurred to me how much it could be a metaphor for where we are today, there are many parallels. We are confined, if not physically at the moment as we were in the full lock down – and who knows when that might happen for anyone of us again? – then certainly by rules and restriction. Where we can go, who with, and what we can do. With my lungs I have made a personal choice to go to as few places as possible and mix with as few people as I can get away with. Within reason, I am choosing to keep my risk to as low as possible. I am in a pretty small boat bobbing by itself.
We might feel that we are each confined in our own space – and we do not know when it will end. Neither can we know what the landscape will be like when we eventually return to dry land.
So, some thoughts from this passage:
God had not forgotten them. Noah, his family and the collection of animals – those in whom the future of the earth is held, may have been floating on the waters, confined in a boat, not able to get off – BUT they were not forgotten by God. He sees them. He is still with them.
The water didn’t stop going down until long after the rain had stopped. This feels so much the case. Just as we thought life might be returning to some kind of normal, restrictions are tightened again. The threat is not over. It may take a very long time for the waters to go down.
Slowly the tops of the mountains appeared, but it was not time to get out of the boat. Whatever their impatience, they had to wait until the land was completely dry. Even if we think we might be safe, others may not be. It is our Christian call to love others, to be mindful of their care, and wait for them. Just because me might be able to fly and sit in the tree or are ok with walking through the squelchy mud, not everyone is. We have a collective responsibility.
Then, and only then, were they charged with leaving the boat and creating a new life – not recreating the old one, for that is what had got them in this situation – but trusted with a whole new world, and called to live in it with and for God. That is where God is leading and calling. We need to listen carefully to what that call is and will be.
Reminded me of that old hymn, Glad That I Live am I, “after the rain the sun”. However we feel, it will stop raining, the boat will come to rest and the earth will dry out – and for that day we wait and pray, whilst living faithfully on the boat.
Thank you Lord
that you are with us
in this storm,
in our vessel.
that you have not forgotten us
but are here.
that there will be a time to leave the boat,
that we will know.
That it will stop raining
and the sun will shine again.
you will put us
on dry ground,
renewed by you.
That you will task us
to live there
and with you.
That you trust us
and call us
to find your way,
to be new.
We pray for that day Lord
as we continue to live
where we are now.