Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 8, 2015

a “starting over” story

The images and illustrations of this epic story grace the walls of countless church and home nurseries.  The details of the story are equally disastrous and heroic.  The animals, the Ark, the rain, the dove … this is the story of Noah and the Great Flood.

I’d wager you’ve read or heard the story taught innumerable times.  I wonder if you’d ever include it on a top 10 list of Bible stories that you identify with.  I wonder if Noah, his wife, or his children would ever show up on even a top 100 list of Bible characters whose story sounds a lot like yours.  Yeah, me too … that is, until a couple of years ago.

On August 26th, 2012 my family walked out the doors of what had been our church home for 14 years.  It was the only church my two sons, then 15 and 9, had ever known.  It was a gut-wrenching decision, but one that we were absolutely convinced was right.  Following months of praying, crying, wrestling and questioning, both Kristyn and I felt a clear and true answer from God that it was time to leave.  The circumstances were unlike any I had experienced in a lifetime of worshiping in community.  We were filled with grave sadness in leaving, and as clear as the answer was to go, there was complete uncertainty as to the question of “where.”

I distinctly remember praying, as I had never prayed before, for wisdom in leading my family through that incredibly dark valley.  I had Moses-like confidence in my track record of being their spiritual leader to that point, but I honestly felt like a moment had arrived and God was once again, graciously gifting me an opportunity to step boldly into it.  In my prayers I asked for immediate direction.  Human wisdom told me that it was not wise to begin “looking” for a new church home right away, but I was also feeling a distinct prompt to move in the direction of something. Through a great deal of prayer, it became clear to me that the prompt was of the Spirit, and worshiping at home was the “something” in our near-term.  It both excited and terrified me, and I began praying immediately for the Spirit’s leading.  As I recall, our first week of wilderness walking involved an out-of-town, holiday weekend trip to visit family, and midway through that first week the Spirit introduced a single character into my mind as I considered the first week of home church.  That single character was Noah.

I was as shocked as I could be on first suggestion.  Noah?!  What in the world was the resonant thread?  My only context for Noah was as a central figure in the story of God’s regrets for having made man, destroying creation with a great flood and starting all over again with a boat full of animals and a single family.  And there it was; almost as soon as the thought of the absurdity of Noah’s name entered my mind, the resonant thread became clear … “starting all over again.”  In what seemed like a breath of time, a completely new and foundational thought had been established in my mind.  Noah, his wife, their children and their spouses were literally “just another family in transition.”

noahIn an instant I began seeing Noah’s reality as a husband and father chosen by God to lead his family through a dark valley and into a completely new start where they would literally be alone in the world (a bit like we were feeling at the time).  I began to see the story from a whole new perspective.  I began to consider what they must have been going through, not as people passed by and tormented Noah as he was building the Ark, but in the very first few hours and days after they exited the Ark and started all over again.  I began to identify with Noah as I never had before, and to see how much my own story resonated with his in that brief breath of expanse in mine and my family’s life.  He was not just a righteous man, singled out by God.  He was not just the sole builder of a really big boat, or the mighty captain of it – things I never saw myself as being or doing.  He was a father.  He was a husband.  He was a spiritual leader of his family, trying to make sense out of an epic story of pain and new beginnings.  How did Noah speak of God to his wife and children?  How did they worship when there were no more places set aside for such things?

I wonder in reading up this point, if some seeds of resonance have begun to take root in your own heart and mind.  I am certainly not alone in having a “starting over” story.  What’s yours?  In reading the story of the Great Flood this week, will you begin to see the story anew?  Where will this story and its characters be on your top 10 and 100 lists by the end of this week?

The Bible is a story … a love story; a love story with countless characters, both lead and supporting.  These men and women were not chosen by God because they were especially gifted or supernaturally righteous.  They are fallen, broken men and women no different from you or me.  Some of their stories may sound or seem epic or uncommon, but as you see and experience them more deeply they begin to sound and seem increasingly everyday and familiar.  God’s promise to never judge creation in that manner again shouts loudly with every rainbow we see, but that’s not the only way in which Noah and his family and the story of the Great Flood are meaningful to our lives today.  Could it be that Noah’s story is your story, too?

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Responses

  1. How did they worship when the familiar, expected and accepted was taken away? Very good question. 🙂 I wonder if it challenged some of the things that had settled in, and around, their lives? Noah’s life – role – as a husband, father and a sort of mediator of God to those around him – his family? How were those roles challenged, changed or reinforced? What did Noah’s daily conversations, thoughts and emotions before, and with, God look, sound and feel like? True new beginnings perhaps rarely come apart from dramatic endings. Between the two, God has our fuller attention – our deeper thoughts……our deeper emotions…….our deeper selves. And there He also makes known His deeper thoughts, desires and Being. Not so much His deeper thoughts and desires for us, though that is true, but the deeper thoughts and desires of who He is! Revealing Himself anew and afresh that we might simply, and significantly, know Him! When life seems a bit chaotic or out if control, He (the Sovereign One) offers Himself, and all of what “Himself” is to us! His presence, His goodness, His care, His ableness, His thoughts, His desires, His will, His purpose, His sight, His ears, His speech, His reaction and response, His settledness and peace, His smile and joy – His kingdom! This is Me!! Share in Me!! Enjoy Me as I enjoy Myself!! There, in and with Him, perhaps the dramatic, chaotic and from old to new (change) take on more of a finite, physical, seen “role to be played life” than a “LIFE to be consumed with”. Eternal, spiritual, unseen (God) LIFE becomes more and more our place of home – LIFE! “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John17:3

    Another time of thanks giving for the prompt to observe, consider, pray and think. It has been an enjoyable morning. 🙂


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