Earlier this summer I had the privilege of working with a group of elementary-school-age students for a week. My assignment was to help the students focus on the story of a person of faith from the Bible.
That week we began each day by exploring a different aspect of the story of Noah. We talked about whom we might pick to help when the world gets into a big mess. (Trust me, an old guy wasn’t anyone’s first choice.) We talked about what it might mean to take on a big job from God and how it might have felt to wait through a big flood. (Waiting was not on the top of anyone’s list of favorite things.) We wrapped up the week by talking about the big promise Noah received from God and the big lesson we might take from his story.
The students delighted me each day with their ability to imagine new ways to understand the story of Noah and to connect that story to their own lives. They shared ways in which the world today is in a big mess; the jobs that God might invite them to do; the trust and patience it takes to wait; and how they can believe in God’s promises.
I’ve learned over the years that I always receive more than I give when I work with children. This summer was no different, but the specific gift came as a surprise.
On our final day together, we talked about the big lesson that we might learn from Noah’s story. The day before we had talked about the two parts of God’s promise: that God would never destroy the world by that kind of flood again and that there would continue to be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night.
It was the second part of that promise that became the big lesson for me.
As grateful as Noah and his family must have been to have survived such a traumatic event, they probably wondered if things would ever return to normal. God seems to respond to that uncertainty by promising that the seasons and cycles that help make life feel normal will continue.
The students and I talked about our wishes for things to feel normal after months of living through a pandemic. We then shared what it might mean for us to remember the promise that God made to Noah and all who would come after him. Once again the students delighted me with their responses.
Is there a biblical story of a person of faith that might speak to and/or connect with how you are feeling as we wrap up the summer months? How might that person’s story help you explore your hopes, questions, beliefs, frustrations, solaces, and disappointments? What big (or even small) lesson might you be able to take from that story and incorporate into your life?
If you think of such a story from the Bible, I hope you will share it and what it means to you with someone else. If you can’t think of a story, I invite you to talk with a friend or even a small group to see what you might discover together.
And may these words from the poet Maya Angelou encourage each of us: “God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us—in the dreariest and most dreaded moments—can see a possibility of hope.”