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|Faith enough to build our ark is what makes history|
Have you ever considered the popularity of Noah's Ark? This is a story that is probably familiar to most, if not all of us. Even people who don't believe in God or know much about the Bible know about Noah's Ark. Nurseries and daycares throughout the country can be found with murals and matching accessories of animals sweetly marching, waddling, crawling or flying — two by two — into the wooden ark.
Whether one believes it's an actual occurrence or a wonderful parable, we all seem to respond fondly to the story. Could it be the presumed order in which the animals march, waddle, crawl or fly? Or is it the protection from the fatal flood that the ark provides for Noah, his family, and the "boat load" of animals?
I decided now might be a good time to once more walk through this ancient story from Genesis. Isn't it amazing how quickly Moses, (known to be the author of the first five books of the Old Testament), moves us from Paradise to Wipe Out? Thankfully, in each situation, he also includes God's provision. Obviously, for Noah, it is the ark.
What we may have overlooked in this story is that even though God provides a successful plan for Noah, it is not handed to him on a silver platter. Noah has to actually gather the wood and build the boat himself. (I wonder if he invented the "measure twice; cut once" rule?) If you read the story, you will see that his instructions are very specific and do not allow for shortcuts. Not only does he build the three-story ark, but he also gathers the animals and makes sure there is plenty of food on board.
Most of us know all too well how quickly we can go from Paradise to Wipe Out, but I wonder if there have been times we have overlooked our specific "way of escape." Maybe we didn't stick around long enough for the instructions. Or, maybe we expected God to hand deliver a fully staffed ocean-liner with a never ending buffet and a guarantee of smooth sailing. I guess it's safe to say that for many of us we are still waiting for our proverbial ship to come in.
In these moments, it is obvious that we have not considered the uniqueness of God's provisions. As you know, Moses simply raised his staff and the waters parted. Not so for Noah. When David faced Goliath, he didn't need a swarm of locusts to plague the land; he simply picked up five smooth stones. And, thanks to his trusty sling shot, the rest is history.
What about Joseph with the coat of many colors? (a.k.a. "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.") Remember when he interpreted Pharaoh's dreams of the seven years of plenty followed by the seven years of famine? They didn't need an ark to survive. They needed silos.
If you watch television there's a chance you've seen the mobile phone commercial of the bride's wedding day. It begins to rain and immediately the coordinator radios some guy to stop the rain. He turns off the hose and nonchalantly replies, "No rain, no rainbow." For most of us, we know this all too well.
So what about when we feel as though we're going under? When there are so many options, how do we know the best plan for our lives? It is a great comfort to learn from others and to glean from lessons learned, but may we never ignore God's gift of creativity. Sometimes there may be an easy way out, but sometimes the answer may call for a bit of sacrifice and hard work. Faith is an awesome tool, but faith enough to build is what makes history.
Jo Ann Cooper is a United Methodist pastor of the LA Conference.