Genesis 7: 11-24
“They went into the ark with Noah, two and two
of all flesh…and God shut him in.”
On Noah’s ark there was no rudder.
God gave Noah incredibly detailed instructions for constructing this floating zoo, dimensions of roofs and decks, but no steering mechanism. Have you ever noticed this? Noah doesn’t need to steer this thing because the direction, the duration, the destination are out of his control. This ship, laden with the seed of all life, is solely in God’s hands.
The ark, then, is a symbol of trust without control. What must it have been like to enter the ark, to have God shut and latch the door behind you, and then go wherever the waves take you?
In that same spirit, in the 6th century, monks like St. Columba left Ireland on mission voyages—with no idea where. They fashioned little wicker boats called coracles—round and no bigger than a dingy. Then, with a prayer in the name of the Trinity, they pushed off from Ireland with no oars and no rudder. Wholly at the mercy of the sea. Wherever the Master of the wind and waves took them was where they were to go.
We may not choose to push out to sea with no oars or rudder (I wouldn’t), but often that’s what happens to us anyway. We end up storm-tossed with no way to control this thing. That’s when it helps to remember Noah and Columba, to imagine that God may just be guiding this apparent shipwreck, taking us through struggle to strength.
Prayer: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: we wish the ark of our lives came equipped with rudders and anchors, but today we trust ourselves to you, the Master of wind and waves. Amen.
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