We read the story in our history books. We knew where it happened, when it happened, and, to a large extent, why it happened; that head knowledge, however, did not translate into true appreciation until we stood before the wall, felt the grooves in the stone made from weather and war, and walked through the Halls of the Alamo.

As that childhood experience altered my appreciation for that moment in history, so too did viewing the life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark inform how I read that moment in time. Standing before the Ark is a stunning thing to behold. Its breadth, width, height, the entire scope of it evokes a sense of wonder that cannot be fully understood with the intellect, but sinks into the core, where words fail to completely grasp what the heart wants to say.

To use a well-worn phrase: it was an awe-inspiring experience.

We’d been planning this vacation since the beginning of the year. Mom picked out the Air BnB that would fit the entire family – there were 14 of us to account for, mapped our route, planned our two hotel stops: one in Nashville on the way up; one in Memphis on our return, and we divvied up which vehicle everyone wanted to travel in.

The way up was almost without incident. Both, unfortunately, had to do with my vehicle. The first was at a rest stop in Arkansas. I thought I was the only one out of Mom and Jesse to get out and use the restroom. Without thinking, I stopped the car and left the key in the console. Jesse didn’t see me do it. Her and mom decided, after I left, they would use the restroom as well.

 I was standing by the locked car when they stepped from the restroom. Half an hour and a little over a hundred bucks later, we were on our way.

The second one occurred the next morning in Nashville. Jess and I woke, packed the car, and began to drive. After a minute I knew something was wrong. Nothing but hot air blew from the vents. It was a hot Nashville morning. Jesse has MD, along with restrictive lung disease, so a six hour drive from Nashville, TN, to Pendleton, KY, was not going to happen.

She rode in Mom’s car. Dad and I sweated in mine. I went through a pint of Gatorade and several bottles of water.

Thankfully, we arrived – a little sweaty – safe and sound at the Air BnB on a Saturday afternoon. Sunday was our rest day. We held a little family worship service at the house. We sang three hymns: Amazing Grace, Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery, and Come Thou Fount, and took turns reading the Noah account in Genesis chapters six through nine.

On Monday, we visited the Ark. First, dad and I dropped my car off at a local shop in La Grange, then we made our way to the Ark Encounter.

The Ark rests atop a hill. You can see it from the parking lot. Even from there, you know it’s a behemoth. Five Hundred and ten feet long, more than 50 feet tall, it stands, an imposing sight to behold.

Once inside, you’re led through various exhibits spanning two floors of the Ark. We weaved in and out of these, which explained how they would have housed the animals, stored water, and disposed of waste. It was all quite fascinating, especially because the Ark has been seen as nothing more than fantasy by many. However, when you deal with the facts surrounding it, it’s not only plausible, it’s the most likely scenario.

But this isn’t a post defending its historicity, even though I am thoroughly convinced, as I am with the whole of Scripture, this actually happened. As Paul states, Christianity is not an ethereal religion, we hold to fact and reason, what we believe to have actually happened (1 Corinthians 15:19-20). This is about how viewing the painstakingly accurate replica of the Ark, walking through its massive frame, viewing the exhibits and reading all the history, helped give me a deeper understanding of that moment in time.

Even while we drove back to Texas, the experience was still on my mind. Thankfully, there were no other vehicle snafus, so I could think on the way back with cool air blowing through the vents.

What an awe-inspiring, breathtaking experience. I recommend the trip to encounter the Ark to anyone and everyone.

Joseph Hamrick is a semi-professional writer and sometimes thinker. He lives in Commerce and serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3). He can be reached at jhamrick777@gmail.com.

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