God is holy. He’s wholly separate from sin. So in the time of Noah, when God saw that “every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5), He decided to end the wickedness and corruption, to put an end to every creature (v.13). Flood waters came as His judgment. No creature would have survived on the earth had God not looked favorably upon Noah and instructed him to build an ark of safety (vv.8,14–16).
Our world remains just as broken today. Human hearts are still inclined toward selfishness, greed, and abuse of power. My own heart is still inclined toward evil, and yours is too. Sometimes our emotions feel like an overwhelming flood to us. And at other times, we’re prone to harden our hearts to pain, so that the brokenness doesn’t feel as overwhelming as it actually is.
The first section of Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow concludes with Jayber walking back to his hometown in a thunderstorm. Between the man and his home in Port William, Kentucky, is the St. Clair Street Bridge in Frankfort. Jayber arrives there just as the Kentucky River begins to pour over its banks. The bridge is closed because of the flood, but in spite of the barricades, Jayber slips past a policeman and crosses, unrelenting in his homeward journey. As he moves over the bridge, Jayber looks out over the water and feels the weight of the destruction:
Everything came turning in the currents, into sight and then out of sight almost faster than I could believe. Along what had been the shores I could see the trees shaking and battering their limbs together. And the waves and swirls of the water caught the human lights of the town and flung them hither and yon. And this is what it was like—the words were just right there in my mind, and I knew they were true: “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Standing in the midst of the flood waters, Jayber remembered God’s Spirit. Instead of judgment, the storm and flood now marked a new creation for him—the end of his old life and the start of something new.
This passage reminds me of God’s faithfulness to make a way through our flood. Though our need is just as dire as in Noah’s time, God’s promise remains (Genesis 8:21). Though our sins still deserve the harshest judgment, God has provided an ark of safety in Christ Jesus. Just as God swore to Noah that He would never again flood the earth, He has sworn to remove His anger from us. Our Savior’s love and compassion are everlasting; His covenant of peace will not be shaken (Isaiah 54:8–10). We can trust Him to bring us through the flood and make all things new.
Written by Jared Kennedy