My half of the ark

OUTSIDE, the rain drummed mercilessly on the skylight at the top of our stairway. I was on my way downstairs to collect my briefcase and coat when my husband called out, ``Have you built your half of the ark?'' He was, of course, referring to the miserable weather; but on my way downtown I thought seriously about a deeper dimension of his question and the answer that God requires of us. I spent my half-hour commute that day thinking about the concept of an ark, and pondering how it could be applied to protecting the marriage covenant between two people. Only a few nights earlier my husband and I had discussed, late into the night, the challenges being married can bring. Boredom, attraction to others, disillusionment with married life, are just a few of the negative elements that would challenge a married couple. Of specific concern to my husband and me were the challenges a marriage fa ces when both partners are pursuing a career outside the home. The temptation to believe that a career, a colleague, or a certain life style is more interesting than one's spouse is being hurled at men and women alike, as mercilessly as the rain beat upon our roof that winter morning. We can learn some important lessons from Noah, a man who knew more about storms, living in twos, and the safety of an ark than most of us will ever need to know! The Bible tells us that ``Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord,'' that he ``was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.'' 1 Therefore, he was chosen to gather together and save whatever would be necessary to replenish the earth after the flood. Noah was instructed to take two of each creature and also to bring w ith him his own wife and immediate family. As I considered the story of Noah, drawing many parallels between it and a marriage, I learned a cherished lesson in ark building. The wickedness that God condemned before the storm I likened to modern-day sensual attractions, self-seeking pleasure and success, boredom, disillusionment, and infidelity. The ark had its foundation in God's covenant with humanity, which God made right after giving Noah the building instructions.2 The covenant represented to me God's true relationship to man, including His love, care, and justice, and man's obedience and righteousness. Marriage is also a covenant. It calls forth these Godlike qualitie s in men and women and demands that each partner maintain his or her covenant with God as well as with the spouse. The ``great flood'' brought to mind a cleansing, a purification process, of all that was impure, sensual, and mortal. There are moments in every marriage when both partners must purge their own concept of the marriage and find fresh, peaceful, God-impelled ways to maintain the relationship. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, defines ``ark'' as, first of all, ``safety.'' And she continues further along in her definition, ``The ark indicates temptation overcome and followed by exaltation.'' 3 Noah's safety was the outcome of his purity and goodness, his perpetual ``walk with God.'' The safety of a marriage also lies in the purity of each partner and his or her fidelity to the marriage covenant. The t emptation today is to accept and become party to infidelity, broken families, and blind ambition that seeks success at the expense of all else. Any one of us, having committed himself to marriage, can overcome the onslaught of society's temptations and find inner, individual exaltation. We can begin each day by building, in thought, an ark in which we can hold and cherish our marriage vows. We can claim our purity and innocence as the children of God and know that God, good, motivates our every action and attraction. We can hold fast to the fact that true success lies not in sensualism, constant amusement, material wealth, or prestige, but in o ur obedience to God's government. This is all very natural because our true selfhood--our only genuine being--is pure and perpetually satisfied and under God's loving government. Once constructed, our ship of pure thoughts will keep us safe from the storms of false attraction, boredom, and so forth that would destroy our well-being and the marriage covenant. Then we will rejoice daily, knowing that we have fulfilled our responsibility in building the ark. 1 Genesis 6:8, 9. 2 See Genesis 6:18. 3 Science and Health, p. 581:8.

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