Today is a landmark date in our house — our fortieth day in quarantine. I admit, I’ve been keeping track on the wall calendar in my kitchen. I’m a counter by nature, and marking off the days on the calendar has been a way for me to acknowledge these isolated days and make my peace with them.
As I reflect on these last forty days of quarantine, I am reminded of other quarantined forties — the Israelites’ forty years of desert wandering and Noah’s forty day cruise on the ark. Both spans of trial and testing for those who endured them. Both an incubation of sorts offering opportunity for soul searching, confession, repentance, and spiritual growth.
These last forty days of quarantine, I confess I’ve often lived alternately like the Israelites and Noah. I’ve complained like the wandering wilderness tribe. I’ve sent out symbolic doves and ravens hoping they’ll return with messages that this trial soon will end. Yet, here I am — here we all are — still in quarantine, still waiting.
On Sunday, we marked nine months since Rob died, another span of counting days and another season for waiting. I remember well the ninth months of my four pregnancies, feeling so swollen I could burst. Great with child. I remember the discomfort, the impatience, the nervous excited feeling of being on the cusp of something new and unknown. I remember the longing to just get this birth done and be on the other side with a baby in my arms. Whether we’re waiting for flood waters to recede, quarantine to be lifted, or a baby to be born, waiting is hard.
Whether we’re waiting for flood waters to recede, quarantine to be lifted, or a baby to be born, waiting is hard.Tweet
Many times, I wish that my grief too would end. I’m tired of carrying this load. I’m impatient with the waiting that accompanies forging a new life. Like the Israelites in the wilderness and Noah in his ark, I just want to go back to my old life again. I’m tired of the trial, my season of grief. As I sit here today, it doesn’t appear that grief or quarantine are lifting anytime soon. I can choose to rage against this season, or I can learn to find Jesus in the waiting.
Years ago, Rob and I attended a gospel meeting with church friends from his childhood. The man at the front of the room opened his Bible to Genesis and began to preach the story of redemption, literally cover to cover. As he spoke, one image captured my heart and has remained with me — Christ our Ark.
Noah no doubt often saw his ark as restrictive, his forty day season at sea unending. But God had different intentions. The ark was for Noah’s salvation. In the same way, Jesus offers himself as my ark — my refuge in turbulent waters, my quiet space in a season of noise, my comfort when the waves of life rise high around me. All the supplies necessary for my survival are already on board. All that I needed thy hand hath provided. Jesus my ark is life and salvation.
Jesus my ark is life and salvation.Tweet
Many days, I feel adrift, locked into my ark of grief and quarantine. I want to get out, to stretch my legs, to feel like me again. I’m tired of grief’s weight and quarantine’s restrictions. But when I embrace Jesus as my ark, I discover that it is precisely here — in this forty day season — where He is found. When I release my restlessness and frustrated perspective, I find Jesus to be my place of safety on tempestuous seas, my security in the midst of uncertainty. Hidden in Christ my ark, I can relinquish my need to count the days, to wish away this time of trial. In Jesus I can find rest.
I don’t know what Jesus is doing in this season of grief and quarantine and waiting. It is a daily discipline to turn toward him and rest. Though life’s waters have not receded, though our days often resemble wilderness wandering, though still knee deep in waiting, Jesus is here. Secure in his ark is where I want to be.