Calling Captain? Noah

I am old, but I still feel young and pretty good most days.  My name is Noah and the Lord has called me to build a boat which will carry two of every animal in the world.  Why me?

I have had this feeling that I am special for as long as I can remember.  Lamech, my father, told me that when I was born I lit up the room with my beautiful eyes, white hair and rosy colored skin.  Even then it seemed I had a special purpose, a strong connection with God which terrified my dad.

He told his dad, Methuselah, that I was way different from any other baby he had ever seen. I began to talk before I could even walk.  And I had dreams about animals that weren’t walking, but thrashing in great bodies of water.  The animals were always different, but the water was the same…great waves swirling up to the sky and crashing down on the animals causing them to sink.  Always, I was above the water looking down into its boiling blackness.

These dreams seemed to be the opposite of what my name means… “peace” While I was growing up, I learned that the people around us were cruel and sneaky.  Some of the boys tried to get me to take things that weren’t mine.  I knew that was wrong, but they thought it showed how smart I was, that I knew how to trick people who were stupid enough to be outsmarted by a boy. Still, I knew stealing was wrong and not pleasing to God.

I had not thought much about God until a little while ago.  I was standing by the shore of Adam’s Lake when I saw a toy boat someone had made.  It was a perfect model for a boat, with three floors to it, a side door entrance and eight windows on top of it.  It was just bobbing on the water.  No one was steering it or moving water to make it go.  It was all alone.  

I started to shiver and watched as it drifted away from me and finally was out of sight.

The next morning I decided I would like to build a small boat for myself.  I began scrounging around for gopher wood and pitch.  The only wood I found was much larger than I needed.  I thought to myself “all of these are much bigger pieces than I need.”  But then I heard a voice (or thought I heard a voice) tell me “this is exactly what you need. I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence.  You will build a giant boat for your family and all land animals.” 

“What?!”  I cried.  “I’m not a boat builder.  I can’t do that.  I’ve never even been on a boat.  Drowning ever person will certainly bring peace, but isn’t there a better way to bring peace to the world?

The Voice didn’t answer.  But the dreams kept coming to me every night, terrible dreams with black, crushing water tossing people and animals around for there was no land anywhere.  What did the dreams mean?  Were they showing me the future.  Finally, I saw my whole family, my sons and their wives tossed about in the violent waves.  Then, they disappeared.  I woke up, and fell on my knees, and just shook.  I was so scared I couldn’t even talk.  

My wife woke too and seeing me on my knees asked “what’s wrong?”

All I could do was mumble over and over “I have to do it.  I have to build this giant boat.  THE LORD wants me to build it.”

That morning at breakfast, I told my wife and my sons and their families what God wanted me to do. At first, my boys just laughed and said “you’re old and now you want to go to sea.  Besides, there is no sea anywhere around here.” 

I said “but there will be.”

After breakfast I took them to where I had gathered much wood.  They all looked at it and said “how big a boat is it going to be?”

I said “I can’t really say, but it’s going to be huge!” Then I told them why.

Posted in Acceptance, Adventures, Animals, Bible, Obedience | Leave a comment

What Is It?

What is this feeling I have?  It came to me again last night just before I closed my eyes.  The sounds outside the tent had made me sleepy, but then the feeling came again and my eyes wouldn’t close and my throat burned with thirst.

I kept imagining another land with palm trees and enough water for our herds.  I kept seeing this beautiful place and hearing the sound of children playing.  Sometimes I could even see their faces.  And not all are little, some are young men.  Some are beautiful women, wives for all those men.  Where is this place?  I must find out.

I have had these feelings for a long time.  Because of them, I talked my father and brothers to move from Ur to this place by the two rivers that meet.  Many people live here because there is much water for everyone.  

I thought after we moved here, the dreams would go away.  But they still keep coming.  What do they mean?

The people here talk about personal gods.  Everyone has their own god who helps them and even protects them.  They all have a special place where they light candles and sing songs to their god.  This is a new idea for me.  I don’t know why belief in a god would help them.

Tonight I will just relax and not think of any special lands.  I will pay attention to the rippling sounds of the river near my tent and let it put me to sleep.

The sleep felt good until I was awakened.  I listened but heard no sound.  Maybe the quiet was what woke me.   It was strange because I could not even hear the river.  How can that be?

Then I heard a voice “Abram, go out from your country and from your family and from your father’s house, into the land to which I will be your guide”

I wasn’t sure I had heard this right so I said “who are you and what did you say?”

The Voice told me I must leave my family and go to a place He would show me.  

I said I would go, but really didn’t think I would.  Who was it that spoke to me like that?  Why would I want to do what the voice said.

I tried to go back to sleep, but whether I was asleep or awake I don’t know because I just saw that same land I had been dreaming about and this time it was in color.  I never dream in color.   And that voice was even in my dream “Abram, go out from your country and from your family and from your father’s house, into the land to which I will be your guide”

What was all that?

In the morning, I sat by the fire and talked in my thoughts “Whoever you are, I can’t leave my father and my brother now.  Terah is an old man.  And my youngest brother has already died.  If I leave now, it will be too much for my dad.”  I said all these things out loud by the fire, not really knowing what I was doing.

Do I have a personal god too?  Does everyone?   Where is the land I keep dreaming about and who are all those people. 

Posted in Adaptability, Adventures, Aging, Belief, Bible, Commitment, Fathers and Sons, God, Providence, Tests, Trust | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Before Creation Care

I am in the habit of reading bits from “Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin whose careful use of words is noteworthy.  Here is a clip about God’s habit of showing in creation some of his nature.

…he divided the formation of the world into six days, though it had been in no respect more difficult to complete the whole work, in all its parts, in one moment than by a gradual progression. But he was pleased to display his providence and paternal care towards us in this, that before he formed man, he provided whatever he foresaw would be useful and salutary to him. How ungrateful, then, were it to doubt whether we are cared for by this most excellent Parent, who we see cared for us even before we were born! (Book 1, Chapter 14, Paragraph 22)

Some Thoughts on This

This before-creation care of God strikes me as logical and loving.  What would creation have been like if Adam and Eve were created and then a while later, plants for eating, trees for shading, animals for caring were created?  It reminds me of when I was in the Army.  The term I often heard was “hurry up and wait.”  When my company was shipping out from basic to various places, everyone had to get up, shave, shower and finish packing at 2:00 a.m. because some guys were leaving a few hours later.  However, I wasn’t leaving until 10:00 that morning.  So, after I got cleaned, dressed and packed, I had to wait for my ride.

God, didn’t make us wait on Him.  Rather, in His great wisdom, prepared all things necessary for man (and woman) before He created them.  In the same way, Jesus willingly surrendered His life an atonement for sins before we were born.

God hems us in with infinite wisdom and care.  Naturally, we want to praise Him, doing  in return what is logical and loving.

Posted in Bible, Creation, John Calvin, Life, Nature, Orderliness | Leave a comment

It Was Only a Bite

Imagine you have travelled back to the first pages of the Bible and you hear the thoughts and see the actions of the first creatures….Adam and Eve

What am I going to do?  The woman offers me a beautiful thing to try.  She bit into that shiny thing and then smiled.  She wants me to do the same.  Should I?

I barely know her.  I like to look at her because she is different.  She moves and talks. There are many things in this place that don’t move and many other things that do.  I like to look at her because she moves and she talks with me.

I won’t give my answer yet. First I will look around. The place has many shapes and shades: tall, dark things with bushy greens on their tops, small things running around.  When I inhale the air is fresh and sweet.

And God is here somewhere.  I talked with Him the other time there was light.  He told me I needed a helper and that was when he made the woman. God took her from my side.  Her looks are pleasing to me.

Should I bite into the shiny thing.  Didn’t God tell me not to take anything from that tree in the center? Didn’t God tell me to not even touch it?  Why would God tell me not to touch it?  It looks beautiful.  And the dark slithering thing on the ground said God was worried that if I ate it, I would be as smart as He is.  

I am so happy in this place.  Can I be even happier?  Why can’t I be just like God.  We could be best friends.  I could make new things with God.  I could take care of this place when God is away.   I want to be as strong as God. 

She is smiling at me again, holding the shiny thing up for me.  It is firm, and its smell pleases me.  

I take one bite.  Oh, it does not taste good, like it should.  It hurts my mouth.  And my ears ache.  I hear God’s voice booming everywhere “Adam, where are you?”  

That’s my name.  I remember it now.  I am Adam and her name is Eve.  

Now, the light has gone.  I cannot see anything, not even Eve.  I am alone and I don’t like it.  How come this happened.  It was only one bite.

Posted in Creation, Disobedience, Faith, Famous People, Feelings, relationships | Leave a comment

True and Lasting Confidence

I have been taking my time browsing through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion enjoying some of the words he uses to explain a Christian’s faith.

Book 1, Chapter 14, Paragraph 22

In the creation of the world, and all things in it, 

the true God distinguished by certain marks from fictitious gods (continued)

…while we observe how God has destined all things for our good and salvation, we at the same time feel his power and grace, both in ourselves and in the great blessings which he has bestowed upon us; thence stirring up ourselves to confidence in him, to invocation, praise, and love.

A Reflection

This confident writing of Calvin’s gives me confidence right now even as I worried about high heart rate numbers.  I need not give these things a worry when God has created all things for our good and salvation.  I notice Calvin doesn’t exclude certain things, but says rather sweepingly “God has destined all things for our good and salvation.”  Thank you John for the strength of your writing and the confidence it inspires in me.  You have taken me out of myself this afternoon and made me fully desirous to worship our dear wonderful Creator. 

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What Is My Brother to Me?

What was it really like?  Sometimes a story in the Bible comes alive to me and I have to write about it.  Here is one such story: Cain’s murder of Abel.

Cain stopped when he saw the fire burning by Abel; he knew what it meant. They were alone in a grassy field at the top of a yet unnamed mountain.

“So you’ve done it.” Cain snarled.

Abel’s face turned dark, then he coughed “Yeah, it seemed like the right thing to do. Just a feeling, I guess.”

Cain stared unblinkingly at his smaller brother. “You should have waited. It’s not like someone told you to do it.”

“You’re right,” Abel said softly. “I don’t know. It felt like I had to do it by myself.” He looked down.

“Look, I am the older brother.” He said waving his hairy arms. You should have listened to me. We were gonna do it together. And now this.” He shook his fist. “Get away from me.”

“I understand” Abel answered with a nod. “Shall I camp over there?” he asked while gesturing toward a nearby foothill.

Cain didn’t respond. The air was deadly silent. He noticed the beads of sweat dripped down Abel’s cheeks.

Cain smiled.

After a few moments, he pointed at the smoky mess and said “No, just take what’s left off the stones, the fire’s out anyway.”

Abel picked up a nearby stick and moved closer to the smoldering fire. Cain circled behind his brother, a sharp stone in his right fist. Suddenly he lunged at Abel burying the jagged edge of the stone deep in his brother’s skull. “I hate you” he murmured. Abel fell to the ground and didn’t move.

Cain looked at the stock-still body. He had to hide it from dad and mom. He dragged the limp body to the nearby bush throwing it head first down into it. All he wanted now was to get away.

There was a rumbling sound from the sunny blue sky as he sprinted down the hill.

Posted in Anger, Family, Humanity, Murder, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Where Did They Go?

I was recently thinking about all the days that have slipped from the future through the present and are now in “the past.” On my birthday this past June my day count was 26,280. Where did all those experiences and events go? I once heard that there is an economy in all of creation. When something dies it goes into the earth but comes back in another life form. If that is true, do past days come back in a new way, a way we never noticed. Is there really nothing new under the sun as King Solomon once wrote: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)

This got me wondering about other things, things I cannot understand. For example, musicians in a band or orchestra. How is it that some have such talent, they don’t even need music notes in front of them. They can just play by ear. And others seem to have a deep music memory which allows them to sing and play a guitar, piano or drum at the same time. Where does this talent come from and where does it go when they die? Does it come back in someone else, but in a different form (eg. jazz genre instead of classic)? I sometimes hear that a certain song reminds someone of something they heard when they were a youngster. Sometimes I find myself reliving an experience when I hear a certain song.

As I continue along my 7th decade on earth, it often feels that things and people are going away from me. There is a kind of grief that goes with such feelings. My Christian faith, however, tells me that they are not gone forever, there are words in the New Testament which says that what seems to be the final end, death, will actually lead to the resurrection of believers when all our questions and wonderings will be answered. I am sure of this because of what the Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian Church: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 11 and 12 English Standard Version)

Posted in Acceptance, Adaptability, Aging, Atonement, Attitude, Belief, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Death, Economy, Eternal Life, Fear, Grace, Grief, Heaven, Letting Go, Life, Memory, Old Age, Perseverance, Resurrection, Spirituality, The Past | Leave a comment