Monday, November 28, 2016
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth. After 150 days, exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible. After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground. But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside. After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone. He waited another seven days and then released the dove again. This time it did not come back. Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry! Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.” So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair. Genesis 8:1-19(NLT)
Most pictures I’ve ever seen depicting Noah and his family leaving the ark show them stepping back into Eden. There’s always a beautiful rainbow in the sky and the earth is covered with flowers and beautiful trees and grass; it’s perfectly lovely, even the animals have smiles on their faces.
How naïve! This had been the mother of all storms! The earth had been wrecked, and the evidence of death and debris must have been overwhelming. The damage from the 2005 Indonesian tsunami would be mild compared to what Noah’s family was facing.
In Genesis 7 we learn that the storm was relatively short – just 40 days of torrential rain, and the waters bursting up from the ground destroying everything. But it took Noah 7½ more months to open the window and peek-out! Even then he could only see mountain peaks sticking out of the water. It took nearly 5 more months for the ground to dry-up. Finally God told Noah to leave the ark and begin this new beginning.
There is a pattern here that is useful for us when we face our storms of loss. God gave Noah and his family many months of darkness to remember the cost of how his generation had forsaken God and made the culture a stench in God’s nostrils.
He also gave them months after the storm, and before the floodwaters receded, to contemplate what they would do when, and if, they could return to a more normal existence.
The pattern is evident: the bigger the storm, the longer the process of recovery.
When we experience loss the recovery process is somewhat different for each person, because we see things differently, and react according to our personality and culture. But the mainframe of recovery operates on the scale of time for everybody. All the losses of life include a time for reflection on what (or who) has been lost, and a time of contemplation about how life will make sense after the storm has passed. And then there is that time when, if you are listening, you will hear God say… now leave this behind – go and be fruitful.
If you’re not going through the storm, or plodding through the aftermath’s destruction, just tuck these little thoughts away. You’ll need them someday.
If you are dealing with a loss, keep trucking…keep releasing ravens and doves…keep listening…the storm happened…but the waters aren’t forever.