I love to read. One of my favorite moments is when I first pick up a new book. With breathless anticipation I begin to contemplate what lies ahead within its pages. What new and potentially life-changing information might be waiting for me in this book? What new characters will I meet that I might enjoy and learn from and become attached to? Will the narrative pull me in so that I can’t put the book down until I’ve finished it? That sense of yearning anticipation can be quite exciting and energizing.
That same sense came over me recently as I was reading Genesis 1:1-2. In taking a fresh look at this familiar passage, I realized it contains some amazing and marvelous truths that we can easily fail to notice or ponder.
In particular, I was captivated by the image of the Spirit hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2b). Genesis 1:1-2a sets the scene for the Spirit’s hovering. The first stage of God’s creative process was the fashioning of the heavens and the earth. At this stage, the earth was without form and void. It was a wasteland not yet inhabited or inhabitable, waiting to be formed and filled by the Creator. In addition, darkness was over the face of the deep, further emphasizing the mysterious emptiness of the tableau.
This is the context in which we find the Spirit hovering over the face of the waters. The verb translated “hovering” here is only used one other time in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 32:11, Moses is describing the Lord’s guidance of and care for his people Israel. Moses likens the Lord to an eagle that stirs up its nest, hovering over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions. It is a picture of protective, watchful care and a commitment to promoting and preserving the well-being of the young. There is a vigilant attentiveness to the situation at hand, a waiting in anticipation of what might need to be done to provide needed care and protection.
As I contemplated this image, I pictured a hush falling over the scene, a sense of breathless anticipation and excitement over what was about to be birthed. Though at present all that existed was a dark and unformed void, there was potential for more—so much more. Yet the potential was not ultimately to be found in the formless emptiness, but in the power and creativity of God. The Spirit hovered, protecting the nascent creation, watching and waiting for God to speak. What a wondrous moment…electrifying!
Continued reflection on this picture brought to mind those points in our lives where God is about to do something new. There have been times when my life has felt formless and void, aimless and without direction. In fact, that has become a familiar feeling recently. Often in those instances I think the Lord might be hovering over us, waiting for just the right moment to birth a dream in our hearts. Those are moments of great potentiality and a new beginning.
If, instead of staring into the void and sinking into it, we lift up our eyes and focus on our powerful and creative God, maybe he will whisper the seed of a new dream within us. And with it can come a sense of expectancy and hope. The result may not be quite as big as the creation of an entire universe, but the dream that God shapes and forms and develops within us may be more incredible than we can possibly imagine. That dream is a gift from the one who has the power and wisdom to bring it to fruition—who can complete the work and call it good. May it be so!
Questions for contemplation:
- Are there any areas in your life where you sense the Lord might be wanting to do something new? Any dreams brewing in your heart?
- Are there any obstacles to pursuing that dream that you might need to work through with the Lord?
- Are there any steps of faith the Lord may be calling you to trust him with regarding that dream?