You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” – Genesis 6:19-21
We say we’re going to do better, but we have yet to make good on our resolution. There’s always one more item, one more thing to throw in the suitcase. One more item to pack in the camera bag. One more kitchen item to put in the food box. After all, there’s plenty of room in the car. When we’re on a road trip. Somehow, however, that also happens even if we’re going to get on an airplane. We are definitely not candidates for Rick Steves’ packing light poster children. I’m not even sure we’ll use everything we bring along for the trip.
Noah is given instructions on supplying the ark for this rescue saga. Ark: check. Animals, two-by-two, male and female: check. Food for all concerned: check. Rooms, spaces, decks, windows and doors: check. There are no electronics. No video games. No TVs or DVDs, or even radios. While that isn’t surprising – after all they’ve not been invented just yet – there doesn’t seem to be any provision for provisions beyond the essentials.
On the one hand, that makes sense. This is to be a relatively short-lived saga. It will rain for 40 days and 40 nights. The ark will float on the flood waters for months, not years. And this saga is not so much about getting from one place to another, as it was about getting from one situation to another. A broken and rebellious world will be wiped out. And in its place will be a pristine opportunity to build a new and better society.
All that is necessary is enough food, space, animals, and people to get through the process of destruction and arrive in the place of new beginnings.
I wonder about all the stuff we bring along on our own lives’ journeys. We’re not on an ark, awaiting the end of a storm and flood, anticipating starting over in a new world. Or are we? We need (and I’m speaking to myself here) so much less than we think. We adorn our lives and homes, offices, and relationships with far more accoutrements than is truly necessary.
There is, however, only one situation reported in Scripture where God tells someone to get rid of all his worldly possessions (cf. Mark 10:21). And while he commends the widow who gave her two last cents as an offering, he also enjoys dining with Simon (who apparently was wealthy enough to host a feast in his home). He allows a woman to anoint him with a very expensive jar of ointment.
Perhaps we’ve lost sight of the rescue mission we’re part of. Maybe we don’t believe we’re just strangers here, sojourners in a foreign land until we are home with God. It might be that we’re prone to distracting ourselves from the important things of God and numbing ourselves to the pain of not being yet home.
Rather than distracting ourselves or numbing our hearts, let’s thank God for his provision, enjoy the worldly blessings he allows, but keep our hearts fixed on the hope for the new heaven and new earth where true joy and life are to be found.
Click here, or on the podcast player below to listen to an audio version of this blog post.