Friday, May 20, 2011

Mt. Ararat

At the end of 150 days the water had abated . . . the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:3-4 ESV).

A few years ago I had the privilege of doing some teaching with a small community of Christians in Armenia. Armenia is a tiny sliver of a country that borders Turkey, and the relationship between those two nations is very tense. One might be right in saying that Armenia and Turkey really don’t relate to each other at all.

My time there included a free day in which we saw the sights around the capital city of Yerevan. The one sight that has stayed with me was a view of Mt. Ararat. On a rocky ledge a kind of open-air shrine had been constructed that faced the distant mountain. On one of the walls was inscribed a poem that spoke of Ararat as being in captivity. These days Ararat is within the borders of Turkey. Armenians maintain that the mountain is theirs.

What struck me at the time was the massive presence of Ararat. We were looking at it from far off, gazing across the border of another country, but even miles away the mountain stood as an imposing feature of the landscape. I found myself wondering what it would be like to approach and ascend Ararat. And I found myself thinking about Noah and the ark. What kind of flood could have possibly submerged something as enormous as Mt. Ararat? And where on that sprawling mountain did the ark finally come to rest?

Last year a group of Chinese and Turkish explorers claimed they had found the ark, or remains of it. The veracity of that claim has been challenged, but I’m not as interested in the boat as I am in the mountain.

What the story tells us is important to keep in mind when storms rage. Eventually the rains will stop. It may take a long while, but once the downpour lets up the waters that engulfed you will begin to recede. And one day dry land will appear again and you’ll discover that you’ve found a solid place to stand. There’s a massive mountain under your feet, holding you up. It was there all the time.

Do we know where the ark came to rest? Not exactly.

Have we found the remains of Noah’s ark? Scholars are debating the matter as they are prone to do.

But this much is certain: Mt. Ararat is real and it is formidable. And when the storms end and the floods evaporate there is a place to find rest. Solid ground.

Even if you’ve never seen Mt. Ararat you can still get a vision for it. Allow your imagination to enter into Noah’s story. God’s purposes for you will not allow you to drift or be endlessly blown about. Maybe the rains are falling hard today. They will cease. Maybe, like Noah, you’ve sent out a dove of some kind – some effort to see if there’s a future for you, a place to stand, a place to start over.

It is there. The waters will one day recede and make their complete exit, leaving you in the hands of a merciful and powerful God. Mt. Ararat is beneath your feet even if you can’t see it now.

Once you find that place, build an altar. Worship God.

“His oath, his covenant, his blood, support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.” (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, Edward Mote, c. 1834).

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