1 year. Not just 40 days and 40 nights. Noah and his family were on the ark for 1 year.
We tell this whole story so quickly. God tells Noah to build an ark. Noah builds an ark. All the animals get on the ark. It rains 40 days and 40 nights. Noah sends out birds and one day the bird doesn’t come back and there was a rainbow and the end.
It’s easy to read Noah’s story and think only of the rain and the rainbow. How easily we forget about the waiting for the water to recede.
The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. Genesis 7:24
God was clear with Noah about the size of the ark, the reason for the flood, and even how long it would rain, but God hadn’t shared the whole story with Noah.
A year is plenty of time for doubt to start to creep in. Were there days Noah wondered if he heard God wrong? If maybe he really had been crazy? Were there days he began coming up with new plans for rafts or trying to remember if he could swim because surely God could not still want them to be on this boat with the snakes?
Did he wonder if God forgot them?
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark and he sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded. Genesis 8:1
How did Noah feel around month six when the rain had long since stopped, but the rainbow, a rainbow he didn’t even know was coming, was still so far off?
It’s easy now to look back and say well a year’s not such a long time. But that year must have felt interminable on that boat, not knowing when or if dry land was coming.
The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Genesis 8:3
Did they wait patiently?
Were there days Noah woke up, exhausted and frustrated, crying out to God for this to please – PLEASE – let this be the day we see dry land?
Did Noah’s wife ever turn to Noah and tell him she just could not take it anymore and wasn’t there something they could do?
After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried from the earth. Genesis 8:6-7
Were there days they woke up and it was hard to gather the courage to hope?
Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water all over the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. Genesis 8:8
Did Noah and his family gather to watch the bird go out absolutely assured that today of all days would finally be the day they would get that good news?
Surely this time the bird wouldn’t come back or, if it did, it would bring with it that tell-tell branch that showed the end was near, the light was at the end of the tunnel, the floods were in fact receding.
He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Genesis 8:10-11
SURELY the Lord will not make us live here in this boat with these snakes any longer.
Surely He will deliver us.
He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. Genesis 8:12
I don’t know if there were days Noah wondered if he’d ever get off that boat or if the Lord had forgotten about him.
I do know that one day, finally, they released a bird that didn’t come back.
By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. Genesis 8:13
I do know that one day, finally, their “surely today” came true. The flood waters receded and there was a rainbow in the sky that spoke of the Lord’s covenant with His people and a beautiful promise of hope.
What I’m finding on this adoption journey is that there is an unspoken pressure to gloss over the waiting, the hard part, to focus only on the rain and the rainbow. We tell ourselves to put on a happy face and speak of God’s timing and His will when what we really want to say is the waiting is hard and the not knowing when the rainbow is coming makes it harder.
In this time of waiting, I’m trusting that God remembers us here in this boat that He called us to build. I’m clinging to those birds and waiting on that rainbow and choosing each day to wake with renewed hope that today will be the day.