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Who but You...

I curled up in my favorite chair just after five in the morning.  I had awakened by Joel’s cry and rushed upstairs to give him a drink of water and then instead of going back to bed for maybe another hour, I went ahead and stayed awake.  Fixed the coffee.  Pulled out the Bible and the devotionals that don’t see enough of my attention.  There.  I said it.

I settled in, got comfy, with the familiar story of Noah.  Big ark.  Lots of animals and everything that creepeth and crawleth.  Rain, rain, more rain.  Dove.  Rainbow.  New world (for a little while, until we messy humans made it a trainwreck, again.)  I have a toddler.  I am completely familiar with the two-by-two-ness and we even have a Mrs. Noah for our toy ark.  Got this one covered in the memory-bank, Lord.  Thanks.  Give me a bigger challenge.  I know it’s early, but my brain can handle it.  

I love when we are taken by surprise with what’s so familiar.

Me and probably everyone else knows it rained for forty days and forty nights.  But have you ever really paid attention to how - freaking - long it took for the land to soak up the excess and the door of the ark cranked open?  Poor Noah.  The guy was already six hundred years old.  Give him a slice of pie and a mug of anything and some cozy socks.  

But God tells him, in teensy tiny specifications, how to build the ark.  The cubits.  The wood.  Who to take.  How the animals would come right over for the ride.  And Noah never asks or questions a thing.  He grabs the hammer and the anvil and the chisel.  He sets to work on this three-level pre-Titanic ocean-liner.  

And the Lord says it’s going to rain for forty days and forty nights.  Noah never asks how long after that they will be sequestered behind the holy-closed door.  Maybe he trusted God so much that it didn’t matter if it was five days post-flood or five million days post-flood.  Or maybe he just figured, hey, forty days in and done.  Maybe he never expected it to go on and on, seemingly indefinitely.  

Genesis 7:24 says that the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.  What?!  How were they not all going completely crazy?  (Maybe they were.)  In the next verse, it states that God remembered Noah and his family, smooshed in there with the elephants and the bears and the sons and wife and daughters in-law that probably all had worn each other out at some point.  

So it rains for forty days.  Then it prevails for one hundred and fifty.  Then there’s a wind that begins the recession of the waters.  The ark rested on the tippy top of the mountains in the seventh month.  And in the tenth month (keeping track, three months later!) the tops of the mountains were seen.  So, then, finally, after sending out a bird and waiting seven days and sending out another and waiting seven more and seemingly on and on... once Noah is finally six hundred and one (Happy Birthday, to you!), on the first day of the first month, he cracked the window and indeed saw dry lane.

Did they rush out doing a Kevin Costner, “Prince of Thieves” move and kissed the ground?  “England, England! Home!”  Or, you know.  Wherever exactly they were.

Nope.  They stayed put.  And so then another month goes trickling by.

Oh.  My.  Word.

This is where I’d be poking out my eyes with a red hot poker.  Just let it end already.

We’ve all been in those spots.  Whether on a small scale (“Just let it be five o’clock, please!”) or a larger scale (“When will the pregnancy test be positive?” or “When will the test say remission?”).  The longing.  The anxiety.  The recovery taking so long.  The calendar turning to another page.  The ticking and the tocking and the unchanging of it all.  The silence from the God who hears and sees all.  Sit in a corner and cry, but you’ve got no more tears.  Pace around the room one more time, but you’ve already done that in your sleep.  On and on.  Round and round.  Salvation, please.  Thirsty, here.

But we know... we know... God is the God of hope.  Of plans: His for us.

You have to believe that or else you’ll go mad.  

Maybe that’s what kept the walls of the ark from fully closing in on Noah and his faith.  He knew God would prove faithful.  He knew there was redemption and hope somewhere amidst the lion’s roar and the donkey’s hee-hawing and the pigeons (eww, gross).  He had to know God’s character, trust it and believe that God had the best in mind - or else he would have surely lost his own.  

You have to stay the course.  Even when it’s rocky.  Even when the water table just keeps rising.  Even when the wound won’t heal.  Even when the body proves itself completely human and limited.  Even when the leader disappoints.  Even when the two year old persists in tantrums, day after day.  Even when the phone stays silent or the relief never comes.  

Because someday... someday... in this life or the next... there will be that rainbow for you.  There will be that sign, always, that you are seen, you are loved and it is finished.  The door will wide open and you will step, run or crawl into a new world.  He has always had it in mind.  He has always known the plan.  He has always known when the waters would recede and we would be free of whatever confines.  There is always hope, because there is always God.

The rainbows we see from time to time remind us that it is all true.  For Noah.  And for us.

Jesus loves me.  This I... we... know.

"... 'For I know the plans I have for you,'
declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you
and not harm you, plans to give you
a hope and a future.'..."
~  J e r e m i a h   2 9 : 1 1


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