Our guest blog today comes from Rev Lynne Gibson. Lynne is the Church of Ireland Rector of St mark’s, Lisburn. Lynne has a love for people and a passion for their mental and spiritual wellbeing. Currently she looks after her own wellbeing through prayer, writing and paddling with a group called the Lagan Dragons!
Lynne encourages us to consider how we might emerge from these times of lockdown. She let us know that we’d do well to be careful and considerate as we do. Lynne says…
I’ve never given Noah’s ark much thought until recently. It’s one of those great Bible stories that we associate with our childhood, learned at school perhaps: pairs of animals, a lovely wooden boat, Mr and Mrs Noah, and a rainbow planted in the sky for them when it was all over.
We don’t dwell too much on the darker side of the narrative. The flood was God’s response to a world which had gone badly wrong – a world where people were driven by their own ambition and greed and busy self-centred ways, abandoning God’s ways. The Flood was a dark day for humanity – God’s stark and almost final warning.
Except that it wasn’t quite final. The future rested on one man, his family and an ark full of animals. There is something very powerful, in these ‘lockdown days’, for us in the story of Noah.
Imagine the scene. The laughter and derision as this old man set about building a huge boat on a bright sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. Labouring away, in obedience to what must have seemed like a crazy instruction, to save the future of mankind and the whole of creation from an imminent flood.
Noah seemed unfazed by their mockery. He faithfully obeyed God, and for forty days faithfully trusted God, while the waters rose and the world was wiped out. Noah challenges us by his faith and his unquestioning trust in God’s plans. But have you ever thought about what it was like for him inside the ark?
This wasn’t a luxury cruiser with a jacuzzi and an all you can eat buffet, and onboard vet for the animals. This was a locked-down sealed-up wooden ark. It must have been incredibly dark, unbearably hot and unmentionably smelly. Imagine the noise. The lack of space or privacy.
They couldn’t open the windows for air, stroll on the deck for their daily exercise or shop online for treats. There was no escape mentally or physically. The Bible tells us nothing of the challenging reality of that first lockdown, so we can only imagine how difficult it just and been.
A few days ago, I saw an artist’s depiction of the animals leaving the ark. Some ran out joyfully, but the sheep held back and had to be dragged out from the safety and security of the ark. They had become fearful of the unknown beyond the confines of the ark and had forgotten to trust the One who was leading them out.
As the world – or at least our small part of it – emerges from our lockdown, there are undoubtedly those who will charge back into the outside world, jostling and hurting others. There are those who have felt safe and secure in their cocooned world and who are fearful of emerging.
Today we are standing at the gangway looking out at that beautiful world that God has made for us, and God is standing with his hand outstretched, ready to journey with us as we step back in. So let’s step with care for those around us and with confidence in the God who goes with us.
‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way’.
Travel safely. Go with God.