As a Children’s Ministries Pastor, I tell the story of Noah often. It is frequently named as a favorite story in classes, and we even have a room in our children’s wing called “The Ark” (complete with animals on the walls). However, I wonder sometimes why we tell this story to our children. When you think about it, the story is horribly gory and terrible!
As the verses of Genesis 7:1-24 portray, Noah was commanded to enter the humongous Ark that he had built, along with his entire family and a large amount of animals. As the story goes, seven days after the animals and people boarded the Ark, the rain started and kept going until the entire land was flooded. Any living thing that was not on the Ark was no longer—entire groups of people and many numbers of animals were simply gone. As we read at the end of our story, in Genesis 7:23, “Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.”
When children read this story, one of their first observations is not about the amount of people who vanished in the flood, but instead, the amount of animals that were in the Ark. Another common observation is about how big the Ark actually was, and whose job it must have been to feed all of the animals (and how badly that boat must have smelled). I’ve found that the children I work with love this story largely because of the animals, but also, because the idea of being on a large boat in a giant rainstorm sounds fun to most kids. But a couple of months ago, upon asking a little girl why Noah was her favorite Bible story, I received a new answer that I hadn’t heard before. My five-year-old friend looked up at me and said, “It’s nice that God had Noah go somewhere that was safe for him when it rained!” As she continued coloring her picture, I got a chance to think about what her words—it was nice that Noah had a place to go during the flood waters.
While the literal storm and flood that Noah faced is much different than the life storms that many of us face, there is value in my young friend’s words for both situations. It was a wonderful thing that Noah was commanded to build a floating shelter for his family and many animals, as the command was made by God in a plan to continue the good that was in the world while destroying the bad.
In our lives today, we face many different types of storms, both literal and metaphorical. Natural disasters, home tragedies, mental and emotional struggles, and hard financial times can make each one of us feel like the water around us is rising faster than we can keep up with. While Noah had a heads-up about what was coming, I’m sure the daunting task placed in front of him was still overwhelming, too. But what keeps drawing me in is that God provided for him, giving the Ark as a safe place to go when the rain picked up, to protect him for the life still ahead.
God does the same thing for us in our storms today. Even when the waters are rising, we each have a place in our lives, given to us by God, which keeps us safe and dry through whatever is thrown our way. Maybe it is a supportive church community, close family members or friends, a physical shelter, or medical care. These things may not seem as grand as the Ark, but they are still our shelters in the eyes of the storms that we face. And, just as Noah and his family were able to stay safe until the flood waters dried, our shelters keep us safe and dry until the time when we can venture out once again. In our life storms, we are always provided safety and shelter, even in unexpected and overwhelming ways. Where do you go when the storms in your life come?