Pruning the Ark

Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.

Genesis 7:15

If I’d been Noah, I might have been tempted to do a little creative editing to the ship’s manifesto.

Snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes: That is just the beginning of a long list of creatures that I might have been tempted to leave off the ark. When God wasn’t looking, I’d have kicked the hyenas out. I’d definitely have tried to omit the skunk.

See what I’m saying? This would have been the perfect opportunity to do a little weeding out of some of the peskier creatures. That didn’t happen. We still have lions and tigers and bears.

Here’s the thing — if I did do a little pruning down of God’s creation, I would be no better than those revelers dancing in the rain. I would have been choosing my way over God’s way.

This story of the flood is a lot of things. It can be confusing to understand why God would destroy nearly all life. I think the purpose of the story, however, is actually to show God’s enduring love of God’s creation. God takes great pains to ensure that life would continue, even when humanity had sunk so low in its depravity.

In Genesis, God says this: “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark” (Genesis 6:18a)

God is not washing God’s hands of the world — God is saving the world, and reestablishing a covenant with Noah, one that had almost been forgotten. This was the covenant made with Abraham, a promise of unending love and relationship. And, judging by the crazy collection of life upon that ark, God was making a covenant with all of life. Even with the cockroaches.

See, I wouldn’t have been so magnanimous. I would have been tempted to tame the wildness of creation, to make it fit my needs and my comfort. I would have tried to remake the world in my image.

Noah was a wiser man than I. He practiced obedience in his response to God’s strange commands. He was willing to do what seemed to be a most illogical thing, collecting such a menagerie. He must have known something I don’t always remember:

God knows best.

I’ll admit, I struggle with those three words sometimes. I get thinking I know best, forgetting that sometimes we’re called to do things we don’t want to do because they are part of a larger picture that we can’t fully see.

It’s not just obedience that Noah displayed, it was faith. Faith that God is on the scene, gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) working to give new life to life itself.

If you find yourself being tugged in a direction that doesn’t fully make sense, try to look at the situation through God’s eyes. Instead of forcing things to your own comfort, allow yourself to be a little uncomfortable for the sake of God’s covenant and great purpose.

Left to my own devices, I confess I would have gotten rid of bats and spiders, never realizing…

they both eat mosquitoes.

Have a great week,