by Donna Pyle
Photo: Donna Pyle
Several months ago, my three best friends and I took the trip of a lifetime down the challenging rapids of the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River. Yes, four women willingly embarked on that wild adventure. It was breathtaking, heart-stopping, and exhilarating. Each time we stopped for a break or camped along the shoreline, the surroundings were incredibly peaceful. It was a peacefulness that stilled my soul and allowed me to live fully in the moment. Each evening, I settled down with my journal and Bible and experienced amazing moments with our God. Each morning after packing up camp, we suited up in full gear and life vests, climbed aboard the rig, and started down the rapids. Peaceful was not the first emotion that surfaced. In fact, it didn’t make the top 10.
Above the sounds of the rapids and my fellow rafters, I listened acutely for the captain’s voice. When he shouted, “Brace,” we grabbed the handholds and flattened our faces against the rig. The captain knew that if a wave hit us in mid-chest, we would catapult into the deadly currents. So my perspective from the chaos of the raging currents was vastly different from my perspective from the peaceful shore.
When God commanded Noah to build the ark (Gen. 6:11–21), Noah didn’t have a clue what an ark looked like. When God described the construction plans for the ark, Noah listened acutely. For decades, Noah faithfully built the ark. His perspective from the ground was that of a hard worker, keeping his nose to the grindstone. One day, God issued the command to climb aboard the ark, and Noah’s perspective changed dramatically. From atop the ark, he had a much broader view. He saw everything he had built disappear under floodwaters. He watched friends fight for their lives and cry for help. He watched animals not invited into the ark grow tired of paddling and sink. Don’t you think Noah wondered, “Why did this have to happen, God?”
Scripture tells us that God closed the door to the ark. I would suggest that Noah couldn’t. If we, like Noah, knew what awaited our loved ones not on board, I don’t believe we could shut the door, either. Sometimes, God has to be the one who shuts the door.
Have you ever asked God the question that Noah asked? Your life is rolling along smoothly, then a drastic event hits. You lose a loved one, get seriously ill, collect a pink slip, watch your marriage end, or see your child stray down a dangerous path.
Recently, I watched my marriage of 13 years end. My knight in shining armor rode off without me. I catapulted into currents of grief, anger, sadness, loneliness, fear, and unanswered questions. How did I miss the signs? Is this actually happening?
As God’s children, how do we avoid being suffocated by destructive spiritual or emotional currents? In Ps. 18:16 and 19, God reminds us to brace ourselves in His strength: “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. . . . He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me” (NIV). Regardless of our storms, God rescues us and gives us strength. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we focus on our Lord in faith, and listen acutely for His voice. God will not let us drown. He carefully places us in the ark of His compassion and gives us a new perspective. Why? Because He delights in us.
About the Author: A member of Salem Lutheran Church, Tomball, Texas, Donna Pyle is vice president of Christian life for the Texas District Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.