People continue to search for historical evidence of Noah's ark. A recent article in this newspaper included this insight by Carol Meyers, a professor of biblical studies and archaeology at Duke University: "Even if they found evidence of an ark," she says, "it wouldn't prove that God told Noah to build it. That's the real point of the story" (November 21).
Yes, indeed. While it would be exciting to find a piece of wood to verify that the ark existed, what's more important is the point that God directed Noah's actions. And, of course, only what you might call spiritual intuition could verify this.
In some way, everyone's an ark builder. Modern-day arks are projects of one kind or another, some very important to the builders and perhaps to society as well. Most people are building multiple arks - building families, relationships, talents, careers, lives. And like lots of folks, I'm learning how much I need and want to let God tell me what to build and how to do it, as surely as God directed Noah many millennia ago.
The good news is that the ability to hear God's direction, which the story of Noah symbolizes, is an innate aspect of who we are as the spiritual children of God. I think of it as the capacity to feel the divine influence of goodness in my life. Because this influence comes from God, it's always present. Perhaps Noah was so pure-minded, so humble, that he felt this influence in a big way. "Noah walked with God" is how the Bible puts it (Gen. 6:9).
I take this to mean that Noah felt God's presence - the presence of wisdom, foresight, compassion, gentleness, courage, and strength. He listened for direction, and then he "did according unto all that the Lord commanded him" (Gen. 7:5).
Another truth I glean from this story is that because it was a good and safe idea to build an ark, Noah's prompting to do so must have come from God. The divine Mind is the source of all good ideas. If you or I have a good thought or intuition, that's actually God speaking, telling us what to do.
One of Noah's qualities was persistence. Building the ark must have been a daunting task, but he kept at it until it was completed. Perhaps he faced derision and skepticism from those around him. (Comedian Bill Cosby's famous impression of Noah went, "The whole neighborhood's out there laughing at me.... You know I'm the only guy in this neighborhood with an ark?")
It's hard to imagine that Noah didn't feel discouraged at times. Yet he remained true to his bighearted, God-inspired purpose.
Anyone may encounter obstacles to worthy endeavors. But whether these obstacles take shape as subtle negative thoughts or remarks while projects are under way, or as a flood of opposition after they're completed, we can trust God to keep us afloat and protect us.
The founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, emphasized the importance of the quality of thought and motives. Nothing except wrong intention can interfere with someone's progress, she said. "Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 326).
I've certainly seen God open the way for my family to prosper in all kinds of ways, including career advancement. And I've learned to start every professional project by making certain that my intentions are pure. Then I proceed more confidently, with my hand in God's, and with more assurance that nothing can obstruct the excellent completion of the project.
Ultimately, I've come to realize that my most important job involves discovering my relationship to God. And I work on building this ark every day.
I am ready for
anything through the
strength of the One who
lives within me.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society