"Come ... into the ark"
"And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation" (Gen. 7:1). According to the Biblical record, because of his righteousness, Noah and all his family—even Ham, who, it seems, was far from being an exemplary character—were saved from the destructive flood which overtook the wickedness on the earth. Thus was God's tender love exemplified.
That Mary Baker Eddy considered the story of Noah's sojourn in the ark to be of spiritual significance to the student of Christian Science is indicated by the fact that she included the definition of "ark" in the Glossary of our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 581). Here "ark" is defined in part as "safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle; the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter."
As we enter into the ark of spiritual understanding, as we advance in "the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter," do we sometimes entertain anxiety because certain of our loved ones have as yet shown little interest in the things which tend Spiritward? Then let us overcome our anxiety by taking these loved ones into the ark with us; that is, let us spiritualize our concept of them and understand that they are in reality God's perfect ideas, dwelling in Mind and subject to one power, one law, one attraction, that of God, good. Continuing our right thinking, we shall realize that we can safely leave our loved ones to the guidance and care of their loving Father-Mother God. Lines from a hymn assure us,
"In My hand thy name is graven,
I will save both thine and thee."
In order to demonstrate consistently the truth revealed in Christian Science that all men are, in true being, spiritual and perfect, we must, so to speak, take all our brethren with us into the ark of spiritual understanding. The discordant pictures of material sense, presenting man as sick, sinful, or dying, are erroneous and untrue, and we should turn from them to behold as real the perfection of Mind and Mind's idea, which is present everywhere, in spite of material evidence to the contrary.
In the directions given Noah concerning the ark was the command to "pitch it within and without with pitch." There were to be no apertures through which the water might seep and cause the ark to be submerged. In order to enjoy the security of the ark of spiritual understanding, one must guard consciousness "within and without" so that no subtle error can enter and disrupt the harmony, peace, and well-being which are man's heritage.
The alert student gives careful heed to the admonition contained in Article VIII, Section 6, of the Church Manual by Mrs. Eddy, to protect himself each day against aggressive mental suggestion. He realizes that, regardless of what form evil may assume, it is a nonentity, powerless and false, having no dominion over him or his affairs. It is profitable to turn one's thoughts frequently to the omnipotence and omnipresence of God, Life, Truth, Love, and to realize that man, God's idea, dwells securely in the realm of Spirit, where divine Truth and Love reign continuously.
Just as Noah found safety in the "ark of gopher wood" because of his righteousness, so do we attain the security of the ark of spiritual understanding through righteous living, and through overcoming the false traits that sometimes claim to attach themselves to us. When the sincere student becomes aware of faults and shortcomings, he does not indulge in self-condemnation or discouragement; instead he rises above error's wrong traits. Strengthened by his study of Christian Science, he understands error's unreality and overcomes it. He affirms understandingly that in his true identity he possesses, as God's reflection, the purity, intelligence, and nobility of his creator, Spirit, Mind, Principle. Through entertaining good, loving, true thoughts at all times, the student realizes man's immunity from evil's claims, and can say in the words of the Master (John 14:30), "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me."
As we pursue the account in Genesis of Noah's deliverance from the flood, we find that, although he may have left behind many material possessions, he yielded to God's will, and throughout this experience trusted the guidance of divine Love. There were many days when Noah could see nothing but the flood waters as he looked out from the ark, yet he seemed to have no doubt that they would recede and his deliverance be consummated, for he sent out a dove three times to learn if there were evidences of the appearance of land. Noah's patience, his hope and faith, were rewarded, for it is related that the second time the dove returned, an olive leaf was in her bill, and the third time she did not return at all, signifying that she had found "rest for the sole of her foot" on land.
During some testing time, when the floods of trouble flow, it may seem to the sufferer that nothing but error is visible, whichever way he looks. However, abiding steadfastly in his ark of spiritual understanding, he knows that this seems so only to limited mortal vision. He delves deeper into the inexhaustible store of help and inspiration contained in his two textbooks, the Bible and Science and Health, and, courageously pressing on, finds healing for the inharmonious condition, whether it claims to be sickness, sin, or some other severe problem. Mrs. Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook (p. 299), "Corporeal sense, or error, may seem to hide Truth, health, harmony, and Science, as the mist obscures the sun or the mountain; but Science, the sunshine of Truth, will melt away the shadow and reveal the celestial peaks."
Noah built the ark substantially and well, according to the directions divinely imparted to him, and therefore it was able to weather safely the rains and flood. The ark rose higher and higher as the waters increased until it was left resting upon a mountaintop; and there it remained when the waters had subsided.
Through the purification and spiritualization of thought, word, and deed, through the overcoming of the errors that beset him, the Christian Scientist attains and maintains a position of safety in the ark of spiritual understanding. He rises above the low level of error where he formerly seemed to dwell, and finds a secure resting place on the rock of Truth. He can say in the words of his beloved Leader (Poems, p. 12),
"Thus Truth engrounds me on the rock,
Upon Life's shore,
'Gainst which the winds and waves can shock,