Tony cleared his throat. He’d never lied to his parents before. Now his dad had asked a direct question and was waiting for an answer. Tony knew he expected the truth. Taking a deep breath, Tony spoke. ?Voyager is a time machine. I built it to take Tie Li and me into the past to see things that are written in a Book that’s out in my workshop. Simon went on one trip by accident and now insists on going along all the time or he’ll tell the military about my invention.” Tony studied his father’s face. “The reason the machine’s in the yard is because when we came back from Noah’s ark, Mother must have been in the workshop. So Voyager sidestepped to the closest clear spot it could find—the yard.”
The room was silent. The big grandfather clock in the hallway ticked quietly. Tie Li sat stock still, afraid to move a muscle, her eyes glued on Mr. Parks.
“Isn’t that sweet?” Mrs. Parks smiled over at Tony. “What a wonderful brother you are to do that for Tie Li!”
Tony didn’t know whether to smile or not.
“Noah’s ark, huh?” Mr. Parks pressed his lips together, trying to suppress a smile. “The big boat with all the animals?” He winked at his wife, who threw him a quick frown, then smiled herself. “And you let Simon go along so the Air Force won’t get hold of your invention?”
Tony looked at his mother, then his father. “That’s right. That’s why he goes with us.”
Tie Li joined in. “We went to Garden of Eden and saw the serpent and everything.”
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to go there myself.” Mrs. Parks was trying to look serious. “Was it pretty?”
“Oh, yes!” Tie Li jumped up and waved her arms in the air. “It had big green trees, a blue lake, and guess what?”
“What?” Mr. Parks asked.
“No weeds!” Tie Li finished triumphantly.
“No weeds?” Mrs. Parks repeated.
“Not one!” Tie Li crossed her arms over her chest. “Not even a candy lion.”
“Dandelion,” Mr. Parks corrected.
Mr. Parks’ face grew red and puffy. Then a loud, long laugh exploded into the room. He held his sides and swayed in the chair, almost tipping over in his glee. Mrs. Parks tried to remain calm for the kids’ sake, but when she looked over at Tie Li again, her hand quickly went to her mouth and bursts of air blew between her fingers.
Tony sat in amazement. He glanced at Tie Li. She was staring at her father doubled over in his chair. Tony caught her eye and lifted his hands, palms up. He smiled weakly. He had told the truth. Whether they believed him or not was their problem, not his. For now, Voyager was safe. He’d move it piece by piece back into the workshop tomorrow. Maybe he’d ask his dad to help. Why not?
Bright rays from the early-morning sun filtered through the thin drapes covering the window above Simon’s bed. He stirred, stretching tired muscles, yawning wide and deep. His sleep had been peaceful, restful. If only living were like sleeping, he thought to himself. A gentle knock disturbed his reverie. He opened his eyes to see his father standing in the doorway. “Hi, Dad,” he said quietly.
The man walked over to the foot of Simon’s bed and sat down. He pushed unruly hair from his forehead, then let his hand drop to his lap. “I’m sorry about last night, son,” he said looking down at the floor. “I guess I had too much to drink. Again.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I don’t know what gets into me, but I promise I won’t drink so much anymore.” He looked over at his son. “I promise, OK?”
“Sure, Dad.” Simon smiled weakly at his father.
The man moved his head slowly up and down. “Things will be different, you’ll see.” With that, he stood and walked out into the hallway. Soon Simon heard the front door gently close, and he was alone.
“Sure, Dad,” he repeated softly. He turned his face to the wall. How many times had he heard that promise before? How many times had it been broken? A promise should be special. It should be something a guy could depend on, shouldn’t it? He closed his eyes. In his mind’s eye, he could see a couple walking in a beautiful garden.
For two weeks, Simon asked Tony if Voyager was ready for the next trip. For two weeks, Tony said No. Finally, all the circuit boards, stabilizing systems, and interfaces were dried, reinstalled, and tested to Tony’s satisfaction. As Simon pedaled down the long dirt driveway that led to the farm, he felt excited, eager, happy.
He leaned his bike against the side of the barn. “Where to now? Not the ark, I hope.”
Tony opened the door to the workshop. “You’ll see,” he said, smiling at Tie Li sitting in the entrance to Voyager. Tony took the Book from the drawer and flipped to a marker placed between the pages. “It says that after the flood, God called Noah and his family together and gave them something.”
“What was it, seasick pills?” Simon grinned.
“No.” Tony tried to ignore the bully. “He gave them a promise.”
Simon looked at Tony. “God made a promise? A real, honest-to-goodness promise?” “I don’t think God makes any other kind, Simon, do you?” Tony placed the Book back into the drawer. “Let’s go find out what this promise was all about.”
The three children entered the machine. Tony glanced over at the bully and said, Voyager, power up.” The lights on the panels came on.
Simon raised his eyebrows. “Voice recognition?”
“Very good, Simon,” Tony said. “And only my voice will be recognized. Get it?” From under the football helmet, another voice spoke. “Get it?”
Simon fidgeted. “Got it,” he mumbled.
A few minutes later, as the door to Voyager swung open, the children drew in a collective breath. Before them lay total, complete destruction. There were no trees, no flowers, no gardens, only mountains and valleys of mud, rocks, and broken limbs. Nothing moved. The world was silent, colorless. Tie Li slowly reached up and took Tony’s hand in hers. Simon turned, surveying the terrible scene, eyes wide with wonder. “There’s nothing left!” he exclaimed, trying to grasp what he was seeing. “Everything is gone. Everything!”
“Not quite.” Tony pointed to the top of a hill. There, resting securely amid giant boulders and debris, sat the ark, battered but still whole. As the children watched, animals, birds, and people began emerging from the huge boat,climbing, stumbling, sliding down the rough, mud-caked hillside. Elephants, lions, deer, cows, and giraffes eased their way along the twisting, turning paths that quickly formed under their unsteady tread, each path leading toward the valley. Far above the scene, standing on the bow of the ark, stood Noah, his dirty, ragged clothes blowing in the wind. He called down to his sons standing at the base of the boat. “Build an altar!” he shouted. “Build an altar to the Lord!”
His family quickly gathered stones and piled them up until a large structure stood firm and tall on the rugged ground. Noah came down and stood by the altar. Sacrificial animals were brought and burned, one by one. Black smoke curled from the stones and drifted into the sky.
Suddenly a voice, deep and powerful, rumbled across the barren landscape. “No more will I destroy the land because of man’s sinful heart. As long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.”
Tie Li held tight to Tony’s arm. The ground shook with each word.
“Because there are no plants and herbs, you may eat flesh meats, but you must never shed the blood of another human being, for I will require your blood in return. Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth with new life. And now I make a promise to you and your generations to come. Never again will I destroy the world with a flood. I set my bow in the sky to be a sign of My promise to you.”
From the west a brilliant rainbow arched across the sky, its colors vibrant, glowing. A joyful cheer arose from the people gathered at the altar. Noah fell to the ground and cried out, “The Lord, He is good; the Lord, He is good!”
Those around him joined the chant until the empty valleys rang with their praise. “The Lord, He is good; the Lord, He is good!”
Tony turned to the bully. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked, motioning toward the rainbow. “Will God keep His promise?”
The big boy stood gazing into the sky. He spoke slowly, thoughtfully. “He hasn’t broken His word yet. Not in Eden nor to Noah. God did what He said He was going to do.” Tie Li looked up at Tony. “Maybe God make promise so people not worry about the future.”
Tony watched the smoke curl from the altar and drift past the scraped and battered bow of the big boat. “Maybe God makes a promise so people will know how to act, so they’ll know what to do. It’s like God depends on people, sort of to remind Him of His promises. The ark, the sacrifices, maybe they say to God,’I believe Your promise.'”
Simon’s gaze settled on Noah kneeling by the ark. He thought of his own father sitting at the foot of his bed. A smile slowly spread across his face as a plan began forming in his mind. Suddenly, he knew his father could keep the promise he’d made. It was possible! But he’d have to help. Looking again at the rainbow, he said softly, “A promise is a two-way street. It takes two to make it work.”
1. What really kept the ark from being destroyed during the Flood?
2. Did God’s original health plan for humans include flesh foods?
3. What promise did God deliver to Noah after the Flood? Has He kept His word?
4. Name another promise God kept many years ago in Bethlehem.
5. God has another promise waiting to be fulfilled soon. What is it?