This afternoon, driving Abraham home from school, I plow through bouts of rain and breaking sun and brake lights and ask the usual, “So who spoke at chapel today?” and “How was your teacher? Were all the kids good?” He chomps down the rest of his lunch and reluctantly doles out snippets of his day.
I try to keep my eyes fixed on the road, something that’s become more difficult when he’s at school all day. All I want to do is pull over onto the side of the road, sit beside him, and stare at him eating his leftover salami and cheez-its. I miss him so. He’s dirtied his khaki knees again, polka dotted his blue sweater with crumbs. There’s red and yellow paint on his collar and under his chin. I spot the paint every time he meets my gaze in the rear-view mirror.
I look away from the mirror and see it, ahead on the road: perfect, prismed light pouring a double rainbow onto the highway. I catch my son’s attention, now splitting my gaze between the rainbow on the highway and the rainbow in the back seat. We look up, and it perfectly arches from one end of the Auburn valley to the other. Promise hangs brilliant in the rain as we try to watch the road and memorize the brilliance of this moment. We drive as it beckons just beyond our grasp, following while leading us.
And I think of Noah. I think of all the days Noah saw: the sun-drenched days and the rainy days, some parched, some flooded, some never-ending in evil and some filled to overflowing with good. Noah saw over nine hundred fifty years’ worth of days. Two thirds of those days–over 600×365 days–never saw a rainbow. And even so, even though there was rain and evil enough to flood the whole world, Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). In a world without rainbows, Noah was blameless.
He did all that God commanded him. Genesis 6:22
He built the ark, filled it with animals, brought his family aboard, and said goodbye to the world. After ten months of waiting in a ship with an entire world’s worth of species of animals, they were able to leave the ark. They immediately began working to cultivate and to multiply.
God honors Noah:
This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:12-15
Now, after all of this time, Noah can relax in this new world: blameless and covenanted and promised to. But what does scripture say about him next?
He gets drunk and makes a fool of himself. Genesis 9:22
After 600 plus years of blameless living? After saving the human race per God’s command along with every species of living thing upon the planet? After almost a year in a stinking boat cooped up with his wife and sons and in-laws?
Now, we could go in several directions with this because the commentaries vary. But this is what I’ve gleaned from this oh-so-unfortunate moment for Noah: we will all have at least one of these moments. Even if we live six hundred years blamelessly, that six hundred and first year will contain our Noah moment. And, in that moment, there will be those who take advantage of our weakness, leave the tent without covering us up, and go squawk it to the entire clan (Genesis 9:22). There will also be those who walk in backwards, not only protecting our reputations, but also our dignity (Genesis 9:23). Those who expose our weakness will suffer their own fates; those who protect us will enjoy theirs. Life will go on, and we will live on.
The amazing thing is that even when we have grievously fallen, even when we have tarnished our Godly reputations and slipped off that shiny pedestal upon which we like to be seen, we are still the same. Even when we fail, even when all the good that we have managed to do is threatened by one stupid, momentary slip, one TRUTH remains: God is still God. Nothing has changed. He raises us up; He catches us when we fall. And all the right and true things inside of us, all of the lasting good we accomplish is only through Him, because of Him, in Him.
And, my friend, that good remains.
So, even if last night was your Noah moment and you can barely look yourself in the mirror this morning, know this:
You are the same child He spoke into existence, the same child He has always and will always LOVE.
His love will never end. He will never, ever stop courting you. And He has covenanted rainbows for all of your days and years, through rain and shine. He didn’t re-nig on Noah’s covenant; he won’t pull the rainbows from you, either.
Stand tall on the other side of blameless:
For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
Know now that a little tarnish makes you that much more pliable in His hands. Blameless is great; humble is so much better. Stick more closely to Him still, and you will know the deeper truth of being His child: that being good is awesome, but knowing you can’t do anything Good without Him is infinitely better.
God bless you on your Noah days, and may you know the double rainbow days when the rain and shine pour together.