In the Beginning . . .

There’s nothing like a new year to make us feel the urge to change our habits or circumstances, to make us feel like we need to change, should change. All around us, people are making resolutions, showing a willingness to be better, improve themselves. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Except it’s all to easy to slip into the mindset that our efforts can earn brownie points with God, maybe get him to make our lives better. Tim Keller calls this Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. We put in the effort and expect God to meet us half-way, appreciate our attempts at good, and be the heavenly grandfather that spoils us. So we hope again with the New Year that somehow, this year will be all that we want it to be.

But there’s nothing like a beginning to make me overwhelmed. If I failed last year, and the year before, what’s to convince me that I won’t fail again?  The fresh start may be like a blank canvas before me, but I already see the black spots. The need to change is too great for me; the work too hard.

That’s why I don’t like New Year’s, or why I don’t make resolutions (see last year’s post, The Rest of a Graceful Resolution).

However, this year, amidst the joy of family and a relatively uneventful holiday season, something shifted in me. I began to dwell on another beginning.

Genesis 1,1

Wow. We overlook this common statement as mere revelation of fact, an introduction to the Biblical narrative. But really, what a miracle. What a statement to put us in our place—as part of God’s creation (and how often do we first think of ourselves as creators—of our circumstances, in our jobs or families?).

Then we read the next sentence and get an image of pre-creation:


What an ugly nothingness with no hope of becoming anything beautiful. A lost cause. A terrifying insurmountable hurdle.

Except for one vital, life-changing thing:

spirit of god

Stop here and forget you know the rest of the story. Remain in this place of tension—a faceoff between nothingness and the hovering Spirit.

Is this the picture of your start to 2014? When you look at your life, do you see hurdles of darkness or emptiness?

Don’t let Satan fool you. He doesn’t want you to look up and realize that the Spirit of God is hovering. The hovering is only the beginning of the creating. If you read on in Genesis 1, you see what becomes of the dark nothingness. Beauty, life, and fullness.

And all this from God’s spoken word.

Let me encourage you. God spoke, and it was. God still speaks, and it still is. That means that the hovering Spirit is about to speak into your life beauty and creation–as he’s been doing since you said yes to Jesus. When we come to Jesus, we live in this place of tension, the old life of darkness yielding to the hovering Spirit. Jesus, the Incarnate Word whose birth we just celebrated, has come so that we may experience new life, and that this abundant life may be to the fullest. But we have to have our ears open to the Word. We have to set aside our own plans for change and receive His. His ways and power. His Spirit.

That doesn’t mean our good intentions aren’t important. It does mean our good intentions need to be brought beneath the hovering Spirit for his power and approval. The will of the Word is to make us Christ-like.

Happy New Beginning, Friends. Don’t fear the darkness. Feel the wings of the Spirit around you and yield to His creative power.


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