As you were studying our scriptures this week, did you notice that the Sunday school version of the flood story recorded in Genesis is nothing like what actually happened? What an unimaginable situation! We can quickly read the few verses associated with it, but when Noah and his family were living through it, it must have seemed like a long nightmare that they couldn’t wake from!
It took years to build the ark (just how many years is in dispute by commentators so I won’t hazard a guess here). Once God had shut Noah and his family in the ark, it was more than a year before the land was dry enough that they could disembark. Can you imagine? And what they would have found when they finally did get off the ark must have been horrifying.
The Bible does not tell us how Mrs. Noah and her three daughters-in-law felt going through all of this, but since we are studying the women of scripture, let’s give them some thought. Here’s what I hope happened: I hope that these wives caught the vision that their husbands had. I hope that they truly believed that God had spoken to Noah and saw what a vital part they played in God’s plan. (After all, without the wives the whole “repopulate the earth” thing would have come to a screeching halt.) I hope that they were able to be true partners with their husbands throughout this ordeal, because that is the only way that it would have been emotionally manageable. (If they weren’t, it might explain why Noah took to drinking after the flood.)
It’s the same with us. My husband and I have been married for 12 years and, during that time, have had to make about half a dozen really important, life and family altering, you-can’t-go-back type of decisions. For two of those decisions, we both completely agreed on what to do right from the start. We could both see clearly that God was leading us in a particular direction. Those decisions continue to be some of the best we have made as a couple and have led to the happiest and most spiritually productive times in our marriage.
The other decisions were made because one party made a unilateral decision and the other person (guess who?!?) had to “submit” to that decision. Or, one spouse would decide what they wanted to do and then beg and plead and make promises that were impossible to keep until the other spouse reluctantly signed-off on the decision. Anybody else had this experience? I don’t have to tell you that those decisions turned out horribly! I mean; really, really bad! When problems arose with those decisions, the submitting party- who knew that this was a rotten idea all along- was not there as a partner, because he or she was too busy thinking, “I told you so!” and “It serves him or her right!” in the back of his or her mind (which sometimes came spilling off of his or her tongue). These decisions have caused countless hours of conflict and unhappiness in our marriage- not to mention the toll that they took on our spiritual effectiveness. This is not God’s will for my marriage or yours.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know when a voice is God’s and when it is your own voice telling you what you want to hear. After 12 years of doing it wrong too often, God has challenged me to pray continually that my husband and I agree on whatever decisions arise in our marriage. God will never call one spouse to do something and the other to do the exact opposite. He will also not ask you to do something that makes your spouse completely miserable. God wants married couples to act in unity as a team. In God’s eyes married couples are a package deal. God needed couples on that ark- not just individuals- in order to save mankind. He called them, and all of us married couples, two-by-two.