It’s no Fairy tale
IT’S NO FAIRY TALE!
This past week, Jody and I hosted the first-ever Creekmore Grandchildren Camp. Our only requirement for admission to camp was that the grandchild must be potty trained. Our two oldest grandchildren, both 4-year-old boys, were eager guinea pigs! I can proudly report that camp was a great success! We swam for hours, logged many miles in the car, stayed in hotels, road a real train, and visited the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. We enjoyed every aspect of our trip, but the boys would probably say the Ark was their favorite part of camp.
The Ark replica was huge - way bigger than we had anticipated! It had three levels with exhibits and many things to explore inside the boat. And out on the beautiful grounds there was a petting zoo, playground and camel rides. It is a top-notch destination and worth the long drive!
THE ARK ENCOUNTER
As we walked though the Ark, one particular exhibit struck a chord in my heart. I’ve pondered its truth for days. The Exhibit was titled, “No Fairy tale.” In this glass displayed exhibit there were dozens of children’s books and toy Arks; all were pastel colored and covered with happy people and smiling animals. My grandsons went crazy saying, “I want these toys,” and “Let’s buy them Sweet Momma!” The books and boats were enticing, and the boys’ reaction affirmed the point of the exhibit. The point the curators wanted to make was this: there really is danger in equating the story of Noah and the Ark to a fairy tale; there is danger in seeing the story as only something desirable, cute and even cuddly. The fairy tale view may be only a subtle difference, but this slight of hand robs us of the faith that is found in the meat of God’s message in Genesis. The fairy tale cheapens the truth about God’s judgement of sin, the value of Noah’s obedience and the overwhelming miracle of God’s redemptive plans.
The story of Noah and the ark must be about judgement and God’s disapproval of sin. God destroyed the inhabitants of the earth because “the wickedness of man was great (Genesis 6:5).” It is a hard story that reminds us of the righteous God we serve. It is also a story about God’s character – He cannot tolerate sin. It’s a story where God, who created the world and all its inhabitants, wanted to “blot” them out because of sin. (Genesis 6:7) God, being the creator, had and has the right to make and enforce His standards. Yet, we see in this story that God loves His creation so much that He made a way out of this sin stained world. He chose a righteous man, Noah (Genesis 6:9), to build the ark. Out of the darkness, God once again created light! This story forces us to examine our own lives, recognize sin and repent.
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE TASK
Imagine how long it took Noah and his three sons to build the ark. Remember, the tools Noah had at his disposal and they did not include a computer to help with calculations! We read the story of the ark over three short chapters in Genesis and easily believe that the ark building was over and done in a matter of days, but it really took Noah much more than that. Looking at the magnitude of the structure at the Ark Encounter causes you to consider what it was really like to be Noah and his family, working on the ark day in and day out for possibly a 100 years! Mind blowing, huh? Practically, it makes me re-look at the little things God asks of me like, “love my enemy.” I can smile over the simplicity of truly little things such as this and thank Him that it won’t involve boat building.
NOAH UNDERSTOOD GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS
Consider this thought, Noah carried around with him God’s secret that the “end was truly coming” to all inhabitants, save his family and a few lucky animals for decades. What kind of understanding of God’s character and righteousness would it take to do this and not lose your mind? Now, we don’t know if Noah pled for the people on earth, but in the end he made the boat. So, he obeyed God’s plan. Noah understood God’s character.
Sometimes I find myself wanting to help out God out by softening His truth so that no one takes offence. If I had been in Noah’s family, I probably would have wanted to build a second boat for “good people,” because I know so much more than God. Not! Noah didn’t have this silly thought that he was equal to God. He was in right relationship, humble before His Heavenly Father. He knew that God meant what He said. Thus, in fear and obedience to God, Noah got busy with the business of the task that God gave him.
Noah didn’t romanticize about the impending flood. Every day he looked into the eyes of his neighbors knowing that they would not survive. Noah understood God’s judgement and faithfully continued to build that boat. When the rain started, Noah didn’t get to change the ending of the story to a “happily ever after” by offering his neighbors a passage in the boat. Instead, Noah watched and let God be God. He didn’t try to share the load. Noah faithfully gathered the animals and his family, boarded the boat and was inside when God “closed the door (Genesis 7:16).” Noah was inside when God passed His judgement on the earth with a downpour and torrents of water; enough to lift that huge boat up off the earth. Because we cannot wrap our minds around this story, it is tempting to trivialize it. We don’t have to understand, only believe.
NOAH OBEYED GOD AND BUILT THE ARK
Noah worked long, hard days for 100-150 years, depending on how you do the calculating. He was ridiculed by friends, neighbors and probably family. Noah built the boat with what we see as only vague instructions from God. And, he built the boat without a rudder or navigation system, Noah was to be just a passenger- God would be in control. With a thousand or more animals, Noah boarded that boat with his wife, his three sons and their wives. All were totally depending on God to direct their journey. Noah was not in charge. He didn’t count himself equal to God. He fully submitted. If the boat broke, if a tiger escaped, if they ran out of food, they could all die. Noah lived in a state of total dependence on God’s grace. So should we. God wants us to follow Him with this same resolve. He wants our trust to be in Him and in His word alone.
GOD’S REDEMPTIVE PLAN: A NEW COVENANT
After 40 days of rain and 150 days in the ark, God dried the earth (Genesis 8:1). Noah and his family left the ark (Genesis 8:16) through the very same door that God had shut just before the waters of judgement began to fall. God then made a new covenant with Noah and promised to never again destroy the earth. For a reminder to Noah and us, God put a rainbow in the sky (Genesis 9:13).
Beautifully, Jesus calls himself the door, (John 10:7-10 and Matthew 7:7-8)) and only through Him can we approach the Father and share our life with Him in eternity. Everyone will not be in Heaven. Some will perish. This is not a fairy tale story either, but a story of judgement on a broken world because of sin and God’s compassionate plan for redemption. This is the same kind of judgement that Noah and his family witnessed, I am sure, through tear-filled eyes and with heavy hearts. But, Praise God, when we take our focus off the world’s events and put our focus to Jesus, He lifts our burdens, dries our tears and comforts us!
JOYS OF PARENTING
Very soon after Jody and I launched the maiden voyage of the first-ever Creekmore Grandchildren Camp, we were quickly reminded that parenting is no fairy tale either! It did not take long for us to begin to show the signs of fatigue as we cared for our little campers. Around level two in the Ark, and right past the theater, a fight broke out in our ranks over who was the “leader.” As both of our grandsons are firstborns, they both coveted the title of leader. It seems silly, but it took a full 10-minute break on a bench to talk through this issue; until resolution at the end of the break, both were in tears. This is not unusual. Kids, just like their parents and their papas and sweet mamas, are little sinners, wanting to lead and not follow. The experience was a good reminder for Jody and I of what our life used to look like before we became “empty nesters.” It is easy to look back in our vintage rear view mirror and remember fondly the good memories and the joy of parenting, but to do that also robs our story of the truth that GOD IS FAITHFUL! And, He never left our side … even through the rough years of three kids in three years. And listen, sweet reader, those years were rough. I learned more about God’s love, forgiveness and mercy while parenting my children than at any other time in my life. So, be encouraged, my friends with young children, tired moms and stressed-out dads. These days are hard – these days cannot always be painted with pastel paints and smiling giraffes on jolly little rocking boats. But, these days are the stuff that matures our faith! Don’t despise these hard times; instead, rejoice and count it all joy (James 1:2-4)! Remember, God has promised to never leave you. And sorry if at times we down play your journey … we grandparents sometimes forget how hard it is. There is nothing like a camp experience to remind us of reality 😊!
After Creekmore camp ended and our precious campers were safely back with their parents- Jody and I went home and took a 4 hour nap, ate dinner and then went to bed for the night!
FAIRY TALE MARRIAGE
The next natural destination on my train of thought is marriage. Every woman dreams of marrying Prince Charming, and every woman is shocked when they find the warts on their new beloved! We must never forget that we are sinners married to sinners. Marriage is hard and yet wonderful at the same time! According to the Apostle Paul, an un-married man himself, marriage is a great mystery (Ephesians 5:32). That mystery is twofold; first that marriage symbolizes our restoration to Christ and second that it is intended to be a tool for our sanctification. You won’t find either of these facts in any of those splashy wedding magazines 😊! God desires to restore us to Him. This has been His goal all along. We see this in the Garden of Eden where God created man and woman and where sin first entered the world. We see this in the Flood where God in His righteous anger destroyed sinful people. And, we see this in the life and death of Jesus through whom God reconciles the believer back to Himself. Christian Marriage, or community with another believer for a single person, is an institution that strengthens our relationship to God because marriage with another believer helps us to become more like Christ; not so much when times are good, but rather when the flood waters began to rise.
As Jody and I drove home from Kentucky on the final eve of our inaugural Creekmore Camp, we heard the campers in the back seat discussing hopes for next year’s adventure. So, more trips to come and more blog fodder to follow!
Keep reading, my friends. May we never be found desiring a life in a “fairy tale,” but rather pursuing life through the power of God’s spirit and overcoming sin in this broken world!
“"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
'The words of the holy one,
the true one,
who has the key of David,
who opens and no one will shut,
who shuts and no one opens.
"'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.
I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”