By Rev. Kurt Condra
Hikers and bikers along Northwestern University's lakefront this week were surprised to encounter barricades and security patrols blocking access because late-April showers swelled Lake Michigan's waters to dangerously high levels. Though not biblical-scale flooding, for three days, waves crashed over seawalls and breakwaters, washed over walkways and lapped at the foundation of a sporty new sailing center.
I can't help but note that the stormy waters of Lake Michigan are receding at the same time our nation moves contentiously toward reopening for business following the first wave of COVID-19 exposure.
In the story of Noah and the Ark, most of us remember The Great Flood lasting 40 days. But scholars say the account in Genesis is comprised of two timelines, by two writers. One account pegs time on the ark at over a year. The other tallies up to 54 days. (Click here to see the math.) I'm not much of a numbers guy. But I do find it synchronous that these biblical timelines roughly parallel those advocated by epidemiologists versus those protesting stay-at-home restrictions.
For me, the more relevant aspect of the story is Noah's reliance on data combined with divine guidance. First he sends a raven to monitor receding of the waters. Then he sends a dove. It took three missions for the dove to gather proof that the time for disembarking had arrived. Still, it's only after clear instruction from God that Noah and his passengers leave the Ark to repopulate the earth. "Then God said to Noah. 'Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’"
Like Noah, discerning whether a secular sign is spiritual guidance, calls us to check the data against the divine intelligence of our own spiritual intuition.