I remember a calm Saturday during my university days. It was morning and as the typical college student, I was taking my time to start the day. My sloth-like activities were interrupted by a phone call from my girlfriend (now wife). She was in a elated state of excitement after reading the story of Noah and the ark in her Bible. I’ll never forget her cute smarty pants tone say, “Do you know what the rainbow means?” Nonchalantly I replied, “That God will never desroy the Earth again with a flood.” There was silence on the other end of the phone. We laugh about that moment now but I had let the air out of her balloon and stole her thunder. The great part was that the story had become alive and had helped to solidify her faith.
The story of Noah and the ark. In American culture today, one might not know this story, but you’ve seen the icons plastered all over a baby’s nursery. Our culture loves the ideas of two of every kind of cuddly animal trouncing into a boat with a jolly bearded man that will care for them. I myself remember as a young man of five having the time of my life loading up a toy ark in Sunday School class. The interesting thought I’m left with here is that no matter our culture’s fascination with this story – it’s just that. It’s a story. In university I had a section of an English course devoted to the study of the flood myths in different cultures. Thus, it is easy to reduce this tale to a good yarn that explains instances without the knowledge of scientific methods.
My entry ends here except that I notice that the New Testament reading speaks of a man named John preaching that the Lord is coming. Now John’s story isn’t as widely told as Noah. You won’t find a rugged and wild looking man adorning the walls of an infant’s room. However, we know that John lived, and his teachings were powerful enough to get him executed since he is mentioned by the secular historian Josephus. Right away there seems to be a reality to John that the secular authorities of the time thought worth mentioning. With one leg deeper in reality through this story, one can’t ignore John’s encounter with Jesus- an encounter where John, a powerful teacher, feels inadequate to baptize Jesus. John, a great preacher, humbles himself in the presence of Jesus, an unknown man. If we can accept the reality of this story, it is little less than amazing. At the end God, Himself announces that this unknown man is His son-the Son of the living God. That is someone I can change my life for and follow.
Consequently, what does this do to our old pal Noah? The art on a baby’s wall is cute, but the discovery that God cares for His creation so much that He would never destroy it makes the rainbow magical – it’s life changing. If then we can accept that one part of the Bible is grounded in reality, what does that do for the rest of it? How does finding the reality of a story impact your life?