I remember the day we boarded the ark and how tired I was. My dad, Noah, had us running around for days making sure all the animals were put where, he said, “God wanted us to put them,” the birds with the birds, the cats with the cats, the sheep with the sheep, all with their own kind. I thought the reason was so that some wouldn’t eat the others, but once the animals got on board our giant boat, all was peaceful. I was especially afraid of the big cats like the lion and leopard, but my fear was unfounded. God brought peace among all the creatures on the ark; it was really quite amazing.
During the months of building the ark, my dad kept saying, “Don’t ask questions; just keep working. God wants this built and we must obey God.” According to my father, God had given him detailed instructions regarding how to build it, what to do once it was built and why it was to be built. But the day our whole family boarded, for the last time, I was sad because although our neighbors had been very mean and cruel to us both before after our building of the ark, I felt sorry for them. God was about to send a terrible storm and there was no way they would live through it. We asked them to come on board but they just made fun of us, and even worse, made fun of God. Once on board, we closed the doors tight to prevent the water from coming in, and there was no getting off until God’s storm was over. What I remember most about that first day was the horrendous noise and the smell from all the animals, I really hoped it would all be over quickly. It wasn’t like we would be bored, since the whole family had to pitch in with the feeding of the animals and cleaning out their stalls and such. I liked the snakes the best since they didn’t make much in the way of noise and didn’t smell bad.
Father had prepared us for this day by telling us that God had spoken to him we had only week to make final preparations before the rains would come; and he was right. On the seventh day it was like the sky opened up and buckets of water were falling, it was like no rain I had ever seen. We watched the water rising by the hour, seeing whole forests of trees uprooted and washed away. Those trees that could withstand the rising water and the pounding rain eventually looked more like small plants since only the top boughs could be seen. It wasn’t long before the ark broke from its mooring and we were adrift, steered only by the roaring wind outside. What was once towering mountains looked like small hills after several days of driving rain and eventually, they too disappeared from sight. Everywhere you looked, all you could see was water and it seemed that the rain would never stop, but according to father, there was nothing to worry about because the rain would stop after forty days had passed. He wasn’t just saying it to make us less afraid but was passing along what God had told him.
But I kept wondering, even after the rain stops, how long would we have to stay on board the ark and take care of all the animals? Would the water ever dry up so we could walk on dry ground again and live like we used to? I had a lot more questions, but I was afraid to ask them for fear of what the answer might be. One night my brother and I stayed up most of the night talking about what might happen and I was glad to know that he too was afraid of what the future might bring. But he told me something I’ll never forget, “Dad isn’t afraid, so we shouldn’t be either.” He told me, “God wouldn’t forget us no matter what and since we obeyed Him by coming on board and having cared for all the animals, he’ll surely take care of us in the end.” This made me feel much better and we never spoke about it again.
The rain stopped on day forty, just like God had promised, but I was right in thinking it would take a long time for the water to recede and for things to dry up. It took as long for things to dry up as it did for the flood to cover everything in sight, nearly two months. My father wanted to find out how things were progressing beyond what we could see from the ark, so he came up with a plan. The only animals that could go outside to check things out and get back to the ark easily without drowning were the birds. After all they could fly and fly high above the surface of the water and see for miles, looking for dry ground. Father looked around the bird section of the ark for the best bird to send and he selected a very large blackbird, called a raven. Ravens are powerful fliers and very smart; that is for a bird. If the raven couldn’t find dry land, he would be smart enough to return to the ark were it was dry and food was plentiful. So my dad opened a window and released a raven hoping that if he couldn’t find dry land he wouldn’t return. Well the raven didn’t return but if he had found dry land, we couldn’t see it, so we had no choice but to wait.
After another a week had passed, father selected from among the birds, a dove to release out the window. After less than an hour, the dove returned having been unable to find dry ground. Another week went by, and my father sent the dove out once more, but after a few hours it did not return like the first time. But what did this mean? Did the dove find dry land and decide not to return to the ark? Or did something bad happen to the dove and that’s why it didn’t return. Nobody, including my dad, knew for sure why the dove did not return. But he said to all of us, “Don’t be afraid. God has not forgotten us and he will surely send us a message or sign to let us know when it might be safe for us to open the doors, let all the animals out and once again live on dry land.” The morning passed as we went about our chores, taking care of all the animals, and when afternoon came we all looked out the window of the ark hoping to catch sight of the dove, wondering if that day would ever come. It wasn’t because we doubted God or believed He’d forgotten us, we were just anxious about the future and afraid of what might happen next.
It was just after dinner and the sun was going down over the surface of the water. Like many nights since the rains stopped, we liked to look out the windows of the ark look at the beautiful sunsets of blazing orange, red and yellow. It was like a sign from God telling us that all would well soon. Well, what we saw next was the most beautiful sight any of us had ever seen. Just as the sun was about to disappear from sight, we saw a small dark point on the horizon that appeared to be coming toward us and indeed it was. Within only a matter of minutes we all began to cheer as the dove came to rest on the windows edge. We cheered as if the dove was a returning hero and in a way it was, for in its beak was a sign of better days ahead, a freshly picked leaf from an olive tree. The dove had found dry land and the leaf was proof that God had not forgotten us and would save us at last. The next morning we all awoke to a sudden bump or jolt that shook the entire ship. Right away I could tell that we were no longer moving, and that we were no longer drifting aimlessly about. We all ran up to the main deck and peered out the window and what we saw was like a dream come true, dry land and green all around us. My father opened the door of the ark, lowered the walkway to the ground and almost before it reached the ground the animals began running, crawling and flying out of the ark. The gates that once had held captive burst open, much like the waters of the flood. Once again there were loud screeches, roars, and bellowing like before, but not just like before. This time it was a joyous sound, the sound of freedom and salvation for all.
Once we were on dry land we prayed to God, thanking Him for protecting us from the storm and delivering us to dry ground. I said a special prayer for the one that flew out into the unknown and then returned to us with the good news held tightly in its beak, the beautiful white dove (Genesis, chapters 6 thru 8).
God cares about all living things, including the birds. Can you guess how many different birds are mentioned in the bible? Is it (1), (4), (15) or (30)? The answer is thirty!
Was it OK for Ham to be afraid during the storm and the flood it caused, even though his father, Noah, told him not too?
Did it matter that Noah, Ham and the rest of the family chose to obey God by building the ark? What might have happened if they hadn’t built it?
What else did Ham’s family do that God told them to do?
Is it Ok just to do whatever you want just because it is hard?
Can you think of anything that you do out of obedience that is hard and would rather not do? What might happen if you didn’t do it?