In my last post I talked about different parts of the Bible jumping off the page at certain times in our lives. I hope you test this theory. It’s pretty amazing really.
One of the ways I engage this process is to think through the story like I might with a novel, digging deeper into the thoughts and emotions of the “characters”. In the Bible there are often many details we don’t know, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist.
Now I’m not advocating filling in the Bible with your own details. Even though often times we’re given a one account perspective, it is undoubtedly enough. However, when you put yourselves in the position of another person in the story and think through what their emotions and feelings might be, it makes the people so much more relatable. The Bible is not just a book of stories. It is the story of real people working through real stuff. It is a story of their need for a Savior, not unlike our own.
Take the story of Noah, for example. I was reading this one the other day; a story I have read or heard so many times I wondered how I could possibly squeeze anything new out of it. How do you read a story like that and not feel a little bit like you are reading Goodnight Moon one. more. time?
But then I began to think about the people Noah took with him on that boat, about his wife and sons and their wives. Noah’s daughters-in-law, caught my attention. Maybe because they are the most removed from the central character. We know God spoke to Noah, but these family members he took with him, benefactors to the blessing no doubt, we don’t really know where they were in all of this, what they were thinking and feeling.
I’m guessing it may have been tough to be one of Noah’s daughters-in-law. Many authors have written about the idea that Noah was probably considered a crazy man amongst the people of his time. He obviously did not indulge in the revelry all his neighbors did. At the same time he was building this gigantic boat before it had ever even rained on earth. So basically, these ladies had a father-in-law who was known, for all intents and purposes, as the town crazy.
Reading on further, while the story of the flood seems impossibly awesome and miraculous on a large scale, what if, on a smaller scale, for the daughter-in-laws, it felt quite the opposite. These ladies were stuck on a boat with a bunch of stinky animals. What if they were motion sick? What if they mourned the loss of their friends or the cozy little homes they had before the the flood? I have to wonder if they ever struggled to see the miracle because their present reality felt more like a mess.
And then finally the waters receded and they were able to come out of the ark. I’m sure that was a huge relief and they were thankful their lives were spared, but I wonder what the next few days, few months, few years felt like. These ladies had to re-build a life. The work required of them, to start all over again, had to be strenuous and never ending. We move to a new home and are exhausted. We move a few boxes, hang a few pictures and many of us end the evening in tears. Seriously.
Theses ladies were starting over with nothing. I wonder if they grieved their old life? If they ever wondered why their lives were so hard? If they ever wanted to give up? I wonder if they ever almost missed the miracle because reality felt more like a mess.
When we look at the story, we see humanity saved by a gracious God, through one righteous man. Plain and simple, we see the miracle. But I have to wonder, in the thick of it all, what if it didn’t always feel like a miracle?
For the last couple of weeks, my life has felt like a bit of a mess. More mess than I care to talk about really, but last Wednesday, in the midst of messes, we left on vacation.
Aaah, vacation. Except anyone with a handful of little people knows that vacation takes on a whole new meaning at this stage of life. Maybe we shouldn’t call it vacation…it’s more like getting away.
So this was us on Wednesday. All chipper and overloaded with baggage and ready to get away.
The first flight? 30 minutes, no problem. The second flight, 3 hours…and this is where things get messy (messier?).
Half was through the flight…so far, so good. I sat between my two girls, who were now both asleep on my lap. Short on sleep myself, I closed my eyes and tried to rest a little.
Minutes later my youngest daughter sits up straight and with no warning begins puking in what seemed like every direction. Parents’ worst nightmare on an airplane; here we go.
My husband called for a flight attendant while I ravaged for a barf bag. And my sweet girl’s stream just kept coming. It was awful, friends. Straight up awful.
The Alaska Airlines flight attendants (definitely giving those ladies props!) were fabulous. My husband took our daughter to the bathroom to get cleaned up while the flight attendant and I did our best to mop up the area. Absolutely nothing had made it in the barf bag.
A few minutes later, my daughter and the mess were both reasonably cleaned up and in the very next second my other daughter, not to be outdone by her sister, began to get sick as well. I’m not even kidding. My nightmares weren’t even this bad, people.
I pretty much prayed the entire last hour of that flight. At the slightest movement of a child my husband and I were getting barf bags ready. I couldn’t help but laugh when my 3 year old sneezed and my husband just about suffocated him with a barf bag to the face. We were a little on edge. Just a little.
We got through the flight with only one more sick spell and we contained it quite well. When we arrived at the airport, still a good 4 hour drive from our destination, my daughters wanted one thing: to go home. You plan a “vacation” for months, so excited to see family you only get to see once a year. My kids’ had a countdown on their wall for weeks. And then four hours away, “I want to go home”. This felt like nothing more than a mess, friends.
When we finally got back on our feet and survived the rental car experience (details which I will again leave out but involved my husbands blood pressure rising to clearly unhealthy levels) we were awarded a brand new little SUV with only 55 miles on it. Fun. Until 1 mile down the road my synchronized pukers went to work, one girl and minutes later the next. One with good aim, the other…not so much.
We pulled over in a random parking lot, no idea where we were and no idea what to do. Tired and sick kids, frazzled and rattled parents, suitcases and garbage bags of nasty laundry. We waved our white flag and found the nearest hotel room we could. Sticky floors and a slightly sketchy view for $175 dollars a night? You bet, we’ll take it!
Sometimes the mess is just so thick we can’t see through it. Every direction we look is mess. Every step we take feels like mess. But feelings can be deceiving too. I thought about Noah’s daughters-in-law. I think God wanted me to read that story one more time before I left on this vacation. He knew I was going to need that truth.
Yes, it’s true. The last few weeks, and particularly the last few days, have been tough. But I don’t want to miss the miracle because I’m focused on the mess, friends. I pray none of us are that short-sided. God is still sovereign in all of our messes. Either we believe or we simply do not.
So we’ll endure puking on airplanes and puking in new rental cars and more nasty laundry than I know what to do with. We’ll endure it like a champ, because I’m convinced there is a miracle in all of this. If I’m patient enough to see it, I will see His grace like never before. Even in my mess, no, especially in my mess.
And I still choose brave. Always, brave.