When the Bottom Falls Out!
When the Bottom Falls Out!
1 Peter 3:18-22
Surely we’re all familiar with the old adage that, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” We often call it “Murphy’s Law.” But there are other Laws (or realities) that I’ve discovered, that are just as accurate:
Like... the un-named Law of Weeding your Garden: the best way to make sure you’re removing a weed, and not a plant, is to pull on it. If it comes up easily, it’s a plant.
Or, the well-known rule, tried and true: The spouse who snores loudest always falls asleep first!
Maybe you’ve been to the store and realized the scanner at the register will not work on items you’re embarrassed to buy. (“price check on register 7, the preacher’s buying beer! What? I only buy it for cooking!) :)
Then there’s my favorite, the rule that I’ve tested a hundred times: the easiest way to find something lost around the house, is to buy a replacement.
We’ve all been there... but it’s amazing how wrong things can go sometimes.
The story is told, about a man who climbed up on the roof of his house to do some minor repairs. Because of the steep pitch of his roof... he decided to tie a rope around his waist, and then throw the rope over the top of the house… and down the front side, so it could reach the ground. At that point he had his son, tie the end of the rope to something secure. So the boy tied the rope to the bumper of the family car, which was parked in the driveway. Genius. What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, “anything that can go wrong... will go wrong” - and as the man worked in supposed security… his wife... who was completely unaware of her husband’s ingenious security measure… decided to run an errand, which required the use of the car. Not knowing that the rope was tied to the bumper, she jumped in the car pulled out of the driveway… and we all know what happened. The good news is the man survived!
Murphy’s Law. We sometimes laugh to keep from crying.
But I’m not so sure Noah was laughing. The waters had been rising all around him. He and his family had been cooped up on board the ark for 40 days, and 40 nights, with every imaginable animal on the face of the earth. (It does kind of make it wonder why he didn’t swat both of those mosquitoes!).
All of his neighbors were gone. The world as he had known it had disappeared. It was the end of the world as he knew it, and he had no choice but to start over.
That happens to people, many of us, all the time, doesn’t it? The world as we know it suddenly disappears.
I think of the person who recently lost their spouse and the change of life that brings. The unwelcomed change that’s forced upon them by death. It’s the end of the world as he/she knew it.
I think of the 50 year old man - laid off by his company after 25 years of faithful service. After spending most of his life acquiring skills that were suddenly obsolete... the world as he knew it was gone. He was forced to start over.
I think of the young single mother… who has three small children. She was brought up believing that marriage was forever. But now she’s forced to bring up her children alone. Her husband decided he wasn’t ready for that responsibility. He wasn’t a dead-beat dad, but the child support simply wasn’t enough. And even worse was the loss of emotional support. For this woman… the waters were rising… and they were rising fast.
But life does that to us sometimes, doesn’t it? When we think we’re in control, life couldn’t get any better… Wham!! The bottom falls out. Our dreams, our hopes, seem to be lost. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Of course, this is Noah‘s story. But it’s also our story, isn’t it? What do we do when the “bottom falls out” and the water’s rising, and the world as we known it, is changing so rapidly that we no longer recognize it?
Well, for one thing… We need to recognize the fact, that beyond the rising waters, there’s a rainbow.
The rainbow being a symbol of promise. Storms don’t last forever. Grief will lessen over time. Most people who lose their job do manage to find another. And single parents somehow make it through.
I was reminded of a story I first read years ago… In some magazine I received. It was a story about a young girl who couldn’t wait for winter to be over and for the summer to arrive. The young girl would kick off her shoes and head off out the door at first hint of warm weather. But before the little girl can get out the door… her grandmother would shout, “get back in this house and put your shoes on… We haven’t even had blackberry winter yet!”
“Blackberry winter” is certainly not a phrase we use that often in the deep south… but it was the phrase this grandmother used in reference to that final cold snap that happens usually sometime in April or May, when the blackberries would begin to ripen. And as always, the grandmother was right, because soon the little girl would have to retrieve her sweaters for a final few days of winter.
And that story, reminds me... that “blackberry winters” are a reality - for all of us - in many areas of life. Because just when we think summer is here and winter is over… blackberry winter arrives…
Have you ever saved and saved money for something special? Maybe for that once in a lifetime family vacation… or maybe to renovate your kitchen… or to redo your back deck. And what happens? The transmission falls apart in your car… or the air-conditioning in your house blows up… or your water heater explodes.
Or maybe you’ve worked and worked hard at your job… Knowing that you deserve a promotion that’s been advertised, a pay raise… And your coworker, who always shows up 15 minutes late, gets the promotion instead.
Blackberry winter. It’s real. But the wonderful thing about it, is it only last for a few days. Blackberry winter is only a brief cold snap… And just like the natural seasons… the “blackberry seasons” of life are just as short.
After all, most of our troubles are temporary. Somehow we do muddle through like Noah, and his family. Eventually the waters receded. And a rainbow appeared in the heavens. A rainbow that was a symbol of God‘s promise to Noah that never again would the waters overwhelm him… or us. Because the fact of the matter is, we’re also the recipients of God‘s promise.
After the rain… comes a rainbow. Of course, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes our trials don’t lead us to a tangible triumph that we can easily see and identify. But still, God‘s promise is always with us. The waters will not overwhelm… And the fact of the matter is, the God who created you and me, has promised to be with us through the storm.
One more story, and I’ll be done.
There was a Scot named Joseph Craik. Years ago he became known as, “the man who turns inkblots into angels.” Joseph Craik was a talented and creative Penman, who could write and draw beautifully. He was very talented. He was appointed as a writing teacher for a village school in Scotland. And often, as children would do back then... his young students would leave inkblots on their pages. The interesting thing about Joseph Craik was instead of chastising the children, and insisting his students be neater - by marking up all the mistakes… he would do something quite different.
Taking his talented pen in hand, and beginning with the blots made by the children, he would draw a line here… a swoosh there… and out of the inkblots would come pictures of angels.
So when the students were given back their papers… They were never all marked up with harsh criticism. Instead they were decorated with angels. And the children were delighted, and encouraged! And Joseph Craik became a legend in his own time… known far and wide as a man who turned inkblots into angels.
You and I know of another who turns inkblots into angels… who turns rain into rainbows… Who can take a life that’s been nearly beaten down, after “the bottom falls out”, and bring it joy and hope. And of course that other, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Noah… and his name is Jesus.
When the waters around you are rising… remember to bring your concerns to the God who put the rainbow in the heavens has an eternal promise that when “the bottom falls out” we will not be overwhelmed.