Last week, Steve and I were tag-teaming bedtime. It was my turn with Baby Z, so I scooped up a few board books and settled into my grandfather's rocking chair, the baby on my lap.
The last book I read him was Noah's Ark.
I've been in church my entire life. I grew up going to a good ol' Southern Illinois Baptist-ish church that had Sunday School, complete with felt boards to illustrate Bible stories and songs like "The B-I-B-L-E" and "Father Abraham." Following Sunday School was church in which we sang all the old hymns, listened to old people shout out prayer requests, and then the sermons about God's love, the sins of this world, and, number one, gettin' saved to avoid eternal damnation and to instead walk the streets of gold alongside Jesus. Everyone dressed up for church. There were "alter calls" and revivals and baptisms in ponds and swimming pools. We used the King James Bible, ONLY. The picture of Jesus that was housed behind the pulpit was that of a white, somber Jesus. Our communion table was engraved with "This Do Ye In Remembrance of Me." There were oak pews and red carpet and at Easter, lilies. If a "brother" or "sister" passed away, there was always a fried chicken dinner after the funeral, put together by the ladies of the church.
It didn't end there. We had VBS (that's Vacation Bible School) every summer, church camp (every summer), Wednesday evening church, Sunday night church. There were special weeks set aside for revivals, homecomings, and special services for Christmas and Easter.
I think I've heard just about every classic Bible story at least twenty times.
So it's interesting to now be the parent, sharing these stories with my kiddos, sometimes revealing a piece of the Bible to them for the first time.
Noah and his ark is a rather magical story for kids. There's a storm (the drama!), animals, a really big boat, and, Miss E's favorite, a rainbow.
Honestly, Bible stories don't really excite me all that much. (Truth.) I'm more interested in applicable concepts, not history, genealogy, Jewish law, or parables. I just want to get down to the heart of the matter, the bare-bones message, quickly, because I have three kids and very little spare time and an impatient personality. I know, this doesn't sound very Christian of me...but it's the truth.
But as I cuddled my son and read him each line from the book, I realized something that I'd long forgotten.
God asked Noah to do some crazy stuff. Some hard things. Some not-very-popular, socially unacceptable actions.
Noah did it.
I'm sure he had doubts. Fears. Anxiety. Strain in his relationships. Maybe even anger at God for asking so much of him. Confusion. Resistance.
And I'm sure with each board nailed, with each animal gathered, with each whisper of humiliation uttered, Noah was feeling overwhelmed.
It would have been far easier to throw in the towel, chalk up his actions to a midlife crisis of sorts, and go have a beer with his buddies (or whatever they drank back then)...but he didn't.
God has asked many people to do hard things.
I've had to surrender control to Him not once, not twice, but three times when we waited to adopt. And when we embraced transracial adoption and open adoption. And now there is the aftermath of adoption and adoptive parenting: with all it's joys and challenges.
I've had to trust Him when the doctor told me my diagnosis was forever. When my blood sugar would skyrocket to 500 and then plummet to 30. When I had to poke my fingers with needles fifteen times a day, or inject insulin into my stomach. When I had to sit in waiting rooms full of people three times my age, slumped in wheelchairs and holding baggies full of prescription bottles.
I've had to believe that He knew what He was doing when He told me to write a book and then (gulp) share that book with the world, even when it meant facing judgment. Even if it meant putting a piece of my heart on the line and hoping others would be gentle with it.
Bible stories aren't just stories.
They aren't in the Bible to be either adored or rejected.
There is something in each one of them.
Maybe I've seen Frozen a few too many times lately, so I'm feeling the word "magical." But I think there is something magical. Something wonderful. Something awe-inspiring, in the Biblical stories I've heard dozens of times.
Not every act of obedience ends in a rainbow.
But it does generate and result in a peace which surpasses all understanding.
I think God knew, when He inspired the Bible, that it would stand the test of time. That no matter what translation a person read, God would whisper hope, grace, forgiveness, conviction, and freedom into souls.
That even a tired mom could get something out of a Bible-based board book.