The picture above is of a much younger me. Though the pants, shoes, gloves, and shirt are long gone, somehow that hat has still survived. Regardless, the picture was taken nearly 10 years ago in a small shack in Eagle Pass, Texas.
When I was a teenager, our church had a partnership with a church based out of Del Rio, Texas. Every summer our group would travel to Del Rio for a week long mission trip. Most trips consisted of block parties and vacation bible school. However, the trip that stuck with me the most came in the summer of 2010.
Eagle Pass is located in a flood plain right on the edge of the Rio Grande. In the spring of 2010, the valley received so much rain that city officials were forced to open the dam flood gates. As a result, most of Eagle Pass was intentionally flooded to save the dam from breaking. Had the dam burst, the results would have been catastrophic. Although the intentional flood prevented a larger tragedy, the residents of Eagle Pass still lost everything they owned in the flood.
Our church was assigned to work side by side with the Red Cross to help clean up after the flood. Our job was to enter the homes and clear out anything that the water had touched. Everything from carpets and sheet rock to couches and ceiling fans had to be removed. The destruction was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.
As we worked our way down the street, some friends and I noticed a small shack that was receiving no assistance. I say shack because the structure was a cement block constructed building of two 6’x6′ rooms with concrete floors. I’m not sure why the house wasn’t in line to receive assistance, but it desperately needed it.
Upon entering the building, it became immediately apparent why everything the water touched had to be destroyed. The mud, which layered the floors 3 inches thick, was toxic. When the flood waters came, they mixed with the city’s sewer lines and caused a foul-smelling and toxic mud.
For the rest of the afternoon, the three of us worked to clear the house of the mud. As I sit at my desk reflecting on this memory, I can’t help but think of the destruction that water can cause. The memories of this trip are the images that come to my mind when I read Genesis 6-9.
An important piece of context to remember when reading the story of the flood, or any Biblical story, is that a relationship with God always requires obedience to His commands. As man disobeyed God’s commands, the world descended into anarchy. Corruption had become so bad that there was only one man who was still obedient to God. That man was Noah.
God instructed Noah, at the young age of 500 years old, to construct an ark which would be the salvation of all of creation. For 100 years Noah labored over the ark, all the while preaching the message of the impending judgment that was to come. God was merciful for 100 years, allowing those who would obey the opportunity to come to him. After the 100 years had elapsed, only 8 people were obedient to the commands of God.
As Noah and his family entered the ark, the flood waters came. For 40 days and 40 nights, it rained. The waters rose high enough to engulf the highest peaks on earth. There was nothing left to provide salvation from the wrath of God toward the disobedience of man. The ark alone had provided salvation.
For six months, Noah and his family remained on the ark. Finally, the waters receded enough for Noah and his family to disembark their vessel and once again touch the dry land. God commanded Noah and his family to “be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it;” this command echoing the original purpose given to Adam in the Garden of Eden.
God then promised to never flood the earth again. As a sign of that promise, He placed His weapon of destruction, a bow, in the sky. God was merciful and maintained His relationship with man. As we see, a relationship with God always requires obedience to His commands.
Though God will never destroy the earth with flood waters again, a relationship with Him still requires obedience today. Jesus Christ came to earth and completely obeyed God in a way that no one else ever could. His life, and death, paid the price that you and I are required to pay as a result of our disobedience. Jesus, like the ark, is the only way to see salvation.
It is only through belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that we can be saved from the judgment that is to come after death. God provided Christ as a vessel for your salvation, you must choose to turn your life over to him in order to be saved. A relationship with God always requires obedience to His commands.