Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2
Before Christmas I was listening to an episode of White Horse Inn, a podcast by reformed theologians and pastors. The episode, titled O’ Holy Night, focused on the beauty and glory of what happened that first Christmas night. They started by explaining how Mary was, in effect, barren, empty. God used her barrenness like He did the universe to create something new, something out of nothing. It was the reason a virgin was selected to show how God is the great Creator.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:34-35
Each time I hear or read of a connection that weaves through the Bible from the beginning to the middle and to the end I find myself having an “ah, ha moment.” Barring heading off to theology school and learning about all these connections in a short time span, I hope to keep hearing about the Grand Story and all its connectedness throughout my days. It’s like coming upon a complete sand dollar at the beach or a beautiful, out of place flower in an otherwise barren landscape. You, at first can’t believe your eyes; then you stoop down to look closer. And then you pop up looking around to tell someone – because it might not be true unless you can verify it. You want to share the moment, the beauty, the awesomeness of it all. Meanwhile others pass by seemingly uninterested or unseeing.
About a month ago I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop by Nancy Guthrie on biblical theology. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s taking a theme found in the Bible and tracing its path from Creation to Consummation (typically Revelation). It helps us to see the Grand Story of God and all the tiny threads that create one massive character profile of our Creator. And how all stories lead us to Jesus.
I decided for this next series to take up the challenge Mrs. Guthrie gave us that weekend. To start looking at chapters in this thousands-year old story as one through various themes. And who could resist starting the new year with the theme of New Beginnings?
We live out our own lives through a long series of new beginnings. From the creation of our very being to our entry into society and from there taking on new challenges whether school or jobs, a marriage or even a marriage to the church we look toward tomorrow for that new step.
If we are blessed to live a long life, we will find ourselves with new beginnings in our families and as we reach retirement. And for some, new beginnings may be what it takes to remove ourselves from addiction, abusive relationships, broken marriages, and even criminal behavior.
In the next few months, we will walk through a number of new beginnings found in the Bible. Beginnings, like Noah that needed just one small family to see the entire Earth be reborn. Beginnings like Rahab’s that started out of selfish need and God turned to good. And beginnings like Jonah who ran as fast as he could from starting new but God, when He selects you for change won’t let go. And quiet new beginnings like that of Onesimus who sits in the background of the letter by Paul to Philemon.
We will see how the character of God shows up each time – from beginning to middle and end. How He keeps His promise to never leave us, to never forsake us even when we feel so alone. And we will see how His will is always done and it is good.
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;" Ephesians 4:22-23
My friend, you might be right on the cusp of a new beginning. It might look terrifying. It might look exciting. You might not even realize it at all until you are in the thick of it. Some of you are longing for a new beginning. I can promise you this, God’s plan is at work. He’s right there watching and guiding. So as this new year begins let’s say a prayer to the Creator. To help us hear and see what new things He wants of us. And what old things He wants cast off. He has a story to tell with you. Let’s help Him publish it for all the world to see.