The Big Boat in the Middle of the Desert

Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a world that has never seen rain. You’re in a landlocked kind of place that isn’t anywhere near a significant body of water. And then you hear about this farmer that’s building a huge boat in the middle of the desert. How would you respond to something like that? I mean, at this point in time, there’s not a whole lot to do. You don’t just plop down on your sofa and turn on the TV for entertainment. So there’s a good chance you’d be willing to take a trip out to see Noah and his gigantic boat.

Then again, it’s not like these things were day trips back then. You don’t load the family into the Swagger Wagon and hit the interstate for a pilgrimage to see the Ark. No, it would be a huge undertaking. But I guess a lot of society was still pretty nomadic. So people were probably passing through the Ark construction zone on a pretty regular basis.

So, knowing what you know about the world at large, wouldn’t it be pretty easy to mock a guy like that? I mean, you’re in the middle of the desert and you’re building the largest boat ever made up until this point. I’m not much for confrontation, even if it involves making fun of a 600-year-old man. If it came down to a fight, I’d feel pretty confident that I could take him. But, even so, I’d probably snicker a little while I was looking at him hard at work, then I’d go away and joke about it behind his back.

But Noah had gotten a call from God and he decided to believe Him. God gave Noah a heads up, told him to build this ark, which, when you think about it, really isn’t a boat. It’s more like a big box that floats. But still, it can’t float without a significant amount of water to pick it up, right? And being where he was, and in his situation, Noah was going on a lot of faith just putting this thing together.

I watched Evan Almighty over the weekend. I’ve seen it before, and I really think it’s a decent story. Before I originally saw this movie, I didn’t think I would like it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the point of the whole thing. I mean, after the Noah incident, God promised that he wouldn’t flood the earth again. So what would be the point of Evan building an ark? Turns out, the world didn’t flood this time. Just the valley in which Evan and his family lived.

To me, the movie wasn’t about how big or small the actual flood was going to be. It was about Evan’s faith and his struggle to balance his life plans with God’s plans for his life. God, played by Morgan Freeman, even laughs at Evan (Steve Carell) when he starts talking about his own plans. God’s plans supersede our own, because they’re always better for us than any plans we could possibly come up with for ourselves. Throughout the film, Evan has to deal with doubts from himself, his colleagues, and even his own family. Eventually, however, he gives himself over to God’s will and stops worrying about his own plans.

That must be similar to what Noah went through. Sure, it was glamorized a lot for Hollywood standards, but Noah had to have dealt with a certain amount of disbelief from his friends, family, and neighbors. Of course he did, this was theoretically humanity’s lowest point when it came to being evil. It was bad enough that God regretted even creating us. Honestly, it would be difficult to believe if someone told me that he didn’t doubt the command to build the ark himself.

The Big Boat in the Middle of the Desert - HouseHow many of us take that point of view? It’s one thing for Dr. House, who is written as an atheist, to make a statement like that. Though he was probably saying it ironically. But even people who call themselves Christians probably believe this, more often than not. Sure, a good Christian will probably say that they believe God still speaks to people, and that people should do what God tells them to do. But what about when it really comes down to believing that God is speaking to them or to someone close to them?

What if your spouse came to you and told you that they believed God was leading them to pick up and move the family to South America to do mission work? Would you automatically go on the defensive, relying only on your human frailty to make sense of the situation? Or would you hit your knees with your spouse? I have a feeling that God wouldn’t call one of you without indenting to get both of you on board.

What if your son or daughter came to you saying they were going to quit their successful career to enter ministry somewhere, because that’s where they felt God was leading them? Would you support that choice? Or would you cast doubt on their decision?

I know these things are different from a guy in the desert building an ark and waiting for rain. But the principle is kind of the same. When someone truly feels like God is speaking to them and leading them down a certain path, do we think of them as faithful? Or do we think of them as crazy?

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