There is a shiny, happy life, which promises to wait up for us, as long as we have the decency to pretend that darkness doesn’t exist. The shiny, happy life is always punctuated by exclamation points. Lots and lots of them, all the time.
I’m doing great!
The kids are great!
It’s all good!
But when the spot turns into cancer, the darkness becomes so dark that you can’t pretend anymore. When you’re sitting next to your lawyer, across the table from your husband and his lawyer, and even the mountain of papers being shuffled around can’t cover the empty shell of your failed marriage, you can’t pretend anymore. When the clock on the wall and the date on the calendar mean nothing anymore, because your whole life is simply sitting in the hospital with your child who isn’t getting better, you can’t pretend anymore.
When terrorists invade the City of Light, blinding the world in a horrific moment of hatred, you can’t pretend anymore.
But there is something else hovering over us in those dark moments, something so big and true and real and bright that we don’t have to pretend anymore.
I write about it in my forthcoming book, Beginnings (NavPress, releasing on January 1, 2016), which imagines the seven days of creation as not simply an event that happened many years ago and is done, but as a pattern of God’s ongoing creating that keeps happening, in you and me and the whole world, even in life’s darkest moments.
Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. (Genesis 1:2)
The word for “Spirit” in the Hebrew is ruach, which means “wind” or “breath.” It describes the creative energy of God, which both generates life and holds it together. It’s full of life, energizing and animating all the emptiness, everywhere. Whatever else it means, it is used to describe something living and moving, compared with something rigid and calcified.
It is ruach which initiates new beginnings, and without it, we stall out, sitting on decks late at night overlooking our past with regret, seeing nothing but endings. The psalmist writes:
If you turned your back,
they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom. (Psalm 104:29-30)
Ruach is the word for “Spirit” in those verses above. It’s used over 380 times in the Scriptures. When the generative life force of God is not present, we will remain lost in the inky blackness.
We are in mourning — the whole world — and we sob and scream at the injustice and pain of the darkness we witnessed in Paris, and in Syria, and in our own lives, which CNN doesn’t broadcast.
But there is a hovering God who is whispering something over us all, inviting the whole world to spring to life, even in the midst of such terrifying darkness. We don’t have to pretend that the shiny, happy life is all there is. There is something so much more substantive, so much more generative and velvety. It’s punctuated by pain, yes, but pain isn’t the end of the story.
Let there be light.
The God who hovered over the waters of chaos in the beginning of all things is still hovering, always inviting us into something beautiful and new. God is an artist, painting portraits of you and me on canvas in the attic, shadow and color and sparkle fusing into reality and potential. God is a farmer who still gets up early to scatter seed in the spring, and to gather the harvest in the fall. God is a parent who delights in measuring your height with hastily scribbled pencil marks on the kitchen wall.
Let there be light, in you and me and the whole world.
Welcome to Day One.
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If you’d like to read the first two chapters of my new book, Beginnings, please click here. I’d love to hear what you think!
If you’d like to pre-order Beginnings (releasing on January 1st), click here.
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