The group gathers for what has become a daily ritual. Many in the crowd have grown up participating in this regular mockery of the crazy man. He is a legend in his own time, infamous for his ridiculous obsession with the structure he claims he’s been told to build – by God, no less! As if there was any such person. No one truly believed those old stories anymore, about gardens and snakes and gods that walked with men. They were just stories, tales passed down through the generations for entertainment. Maybe there were some remnants of truth involved, but surely any reasonable man could see the holes in such fantastic stories. Old Seth, who had died a few years before Noah was born, had always clung to the old stories as truth, claiming they were about his parents – but then, he was a crazy old man by the time he died, ranting and raving about the downfall of mankind.
Craziness ran in this family. Old Enoch has been so insane, he had simply wandered off one day and disappeared. Certainly Noah had inherited the madness. Here he had worked, in this yard, day after day for the past one hundred years, neglecting his farm and letting his land go to rot. And his family was no help at all. They simply joined their father with a quiet resignation, as if there was nothing to do but follow the doddering old fool. The family was practically starving, keeping a bare minimum of a garden in order to cultivate just enough food to stay alive. And this when one had the opportunity to eat one’s self into a pleasant stupor! They never joined in the parties either. Everyone around them knew how to have a good time, but no, not this family. Not the “holy ones.” They stayed away from the fun of drunkenness and women, preferring instead to work on that blasted contraption all day long and into the night.
It’s not like the village hadn’t tried to talk some sense into the idiot over the years. When he first started talking about the visitation from God, some of his closest friends had sat him down and tried to talk to him.
“Noah, seriously. What are you talking about? A flood? Water everywhere? Water stays in its place. That’s what it does. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s not how it works.”
“All I know is what God has told me.”
“God? There you go again, talking about that God person. Can’t you see there is no person? What use is there ‘talking’ to something you can’t see or hear?”
“Even if there is a God, it’s not like he’s around much. Do you see him anywhere? Maybe he did create us, even put us here. But he certainly hasn’t had anything to do with us for a long time. It’s every man for himself by now.”
“Well, I for one don’t know anything about this God nonsense. All I know is you are wasting your life. You never live! You spend all this time ‘worshipping’ your God and listening for him to ‘speak’ to you. When do you have a good time? There’s a world of fun to be had out there. Live it up, I say!”
Noah shook his head sadly and replied, “Oh, my brothers, I wish I could make you see what I see. God created each and every one of you, and it grieves His heart to hear you say such things. Don’t you see? He is sorry He ever made mankind! Seth, Enoch, and the others are right. My forefathers have spoken the truth. Man has been falling for a long time, and now they have fallen too far. Turn back to God, my friends! It may be that He will still have mercy on you as He is having mercy on my family!”
Disgusted, most of Noah’s “friends” turned away and left. Only his oldest friend, a man he’d grown up with, stayed behind. He looked hard at his old friend and sighed.
“Noah, listen to me. The others are wrong; sure there is a God. Sure He created us. But how would a loving God destroy the whole earth? That just doesn’t seem like God to me. And there are plenty like me around – we know there’s a God. But He loves us. If anything from the old stories is true, that is. He wouldn’t ever do anything to harm us.”
Noah said, “Friend, how are you living? Are you living like you believe there is a God? Is your life devoted to Him?”
“Noah, no one lives that way anymore. That’s just stuff from old times. That’s the stuff of our great-great-great grandfathers. Yes, I believe God’s there. I even pray from time to time. But it’s not something that needs to run my life. You’ve become obsessed, a crazy man…and if you persist in building this – what did you call it? An ark? – everyone will label you as crazy. No one will talk to you again. You’ll lose business. Are you willing to lose everything for the sake of following some wild vision you had one night?”
Noah simply said, “Are you willing to lose everything on the gamble that I’m wrong? If I’m wrong, then I look like a fool. I’ll die looking like a fool. But I’m not wrong. And if I’m right and you are wrong, you are going to die with no chance at redemption. This is your last chance. I have nothing to lose. I am willing to look like a fool for the sake of being faithful to the Lord. You have everything to lose, old friend. Are you willing to take that chance?”
The two friends had parted from this conversation sad, each knowing that their friendship would never be the same. Other similar conversations had happened over the past century, but they had become less and less over the years. Noah had become more isolated from the village as time wore on.