By Rebekah Theilen
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
In the markets she raises her voice:
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out,
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks.”
“No one saw the Great Flood coming.”
These are the opening words of author Rod Dreher in his new book, The Benedict Option. The book puts into words what many of us have been thinking but unable to articulate--the growing sense that something isn’t right, that even the strongest Christian families around us are beginning to buckle under the pressure of a dark and stormy and invisible weight, that the business-as-usual way of American life is no longer sustainable, or even acceptable, for Christians.
No one saw the Great Flood coming. The words strike a match against a long-lost memory, an old eternal flame and ancient ache in our hearts. We’ve heard this story before. The Lord looked down upon the earth and saw man’s wickedness had become deep and wide. And because sin separates, and tears creation from Creator, there’s a lasting love that can’t be found. God’s heart broke down with pain. Man excelled at striking God. God regretted making man.
He could’ve ended it all right there. But God had everything to lose and man had squandered all his gain. So God--who in the fullness of time would gain a reputation for asking men to do strange things--God told Noah to build an ark. Noah was a righteous man, and we’ve fallen so far, we don’t even know what that means anymore. The water was coming. A Great Flood would come to put an end to the destruction, slaughtering everything evil under the sun.
Can anything good come from a God gone mad? My family decided to go and see, for some things you’ve just got to see for yourself. Our cats were home with special access to the sunroom, along with an extra litter box to make up for our absence. The rest of us woke up on the second floor of the Comfort Suites. We weren’t in Kansas anymore, or Illinois or Indiana. We were in Williamstown, Kentucky to see the stunning new creation--the Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter.
As it was in the days of Noah, the ark was standing right in front of me, and the largest timber frame structure in the world did not disappoint. My eyes started to rain drops of wonderment, and I remembered my Sunday school teacher, Mr. Jim, and the stories he told me when I was a child. When we passed through the door, thunder rumbled overhead, and the wooden floor of heaven trembled firm beneath my feet. It wasn’t the size of the little boat that arrested me. It was the goodness of God in the face of His torrential judgement.
We were children of wrath like the rest of mankind. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4). The Lord was kind, and Noah was spared. “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events yet unseen, in holy fear constructed an ark for the saving of His household. By this he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
“I am the door,” Jesus says, and salvation is found in no one else. I walk through the door with an armful of garbage and luggage from the trip. The cats come running up the stairs. They’re happy we’re home, and so are we. Everyone is tired, and Dad and I together are ready for bed. We get the rest of the van unloaded, dropping everything onto the mud room floor. The big kids immediately tend to the litter box. The little ones dig around for clean jammies from their bags. We’ll unpack them tomorrow when the sun comes up again.
“Come, Lord Jesus!” the Church cries together. And we wait, and we work, and we stay and we dwell where the Lord of Hosts has placed us. Most people will never see the work we do, the pains we knew, or the lives we lived and gave. But see this wonder in the making, even as the earth is breaking, God Himself will send His Son. The Psalmist writes, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to his prayer” (Psalm 34:15). The Lord remembered Noah, and He remembers us, wherever we are, for God cannot forget His children.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Jesus prays from His cross, soon before He was abandoned. And with those few words the world is forever changed. The love of God survived. The Lord of Love endured the darkness and undid the death, the hatred, and every evil thought we threw upon the God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God. Blessed are the born of water and the Spirit, that we have been called the body of Christ! In Him the body dwells secure, He who saves our souls from sin, from ourselves, and from the sure and coming fire.
The world says, “Blessed is he who half-heartedly embraces his unalienable right to life, liberty, and the sensual pursuit of everlasting happiness.”
Jesus says, “Blessed is he who hears the Word of God and keeps it!”
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand has provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
Rebekah spends her days living life alongside her husband and children. She enjoys reading, homeschooling, and every once in a great while, chasing after the wind.