Rushing Past New Beginnings
By Charity Kemper Sandstrom
It is funny to me that our culture is determined to move on from things so quickly. Christmas Day is past, take down the tree. New Year's Day has come and gone, time to bring out the Valentine's Day décor. Here we are at the end of the first week of January, and it seems like we are rushing past this new beginning. I am afraid we’re missing opportunities to ponder and reflect. I don't want to rush through these opening weeks of a new year. I want to linger.
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created...”
If we want to know a person's character, it sometimes helps to see what they get up to when no one else is around. Well, when all there was was God, God got busy creating. We see it as a continuing thread, this creative energy surging through the universe. Constant creation, re-creation, adaptation. Every sunset, every sunrise, every storm cloud carries the imprint of God's brush strokes.
God is at work creating still. Can you see and recognize this Divine work? Where is God inviting you to use your creative ability to join in the ongoing creative process?
John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the word...through whom all things were made...”
John is speaking of Jesus, the eternal Christ and divine Word of God. who was with God, creating the world, the stars, the universe in the beginning. The Word of God is representative of God's divine purpose, intention, wisdom and will. Jesus carried this Word in human flesh for all to see and encounter. The Word at the beginning, through whom all was made, became flesh so that you and I could see the exact representation of God's heart. No interpretations, no visions, no prophets, just Word walking among us.
Do you find yourself splitting Jesus's character from God's as though they are two actors with different motivations in the same story? How can we approach Jesus as the number one revelation of God's heart for the world?
Psalm 102:25 “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.”
I don't believe the earth is on a literal foundation—I have seen the footage from outer space that clearly shows we are dangling without so much as a thread—but the sentiment the Psalmist is expressing here still rings true. It is a Psalm of lament, so many things crumbling around the person who cries out that everything is going terribly wrong. But their hope is in a God who not only pre-dates this current crisis, but in fact outlives the universe. When our circumstances are difficult, when we feel as though we have no solid place to stand, we can affirm with the Psalmist that God is not shaken.
If the foundations of the earth lie in complex systems that include gravity, space-time, quarks and string theory, can we trust that the God who put it all together is able to handle the chaos of our lives?
2 John 1:6 “As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
God created through the Word who came to live among us in the flesh to give us a first-hand experience of God. What was the theme of Christ's ministry? What held everything together as Jesus interpreted the Law & Prophets? Love. Love God. Love Others. Love Your Enemy. For God so Loved. If creation in the midst of nothingness shows us the impulse of God's nature, Christ shows us the motivation behind the action.
Christ's command is to walk in love because God loves. If we are to live as children of God, love must be our motive as well. Where do you need to experience God's love more fully? How can you walk in love more genuinely?
Revelation 21:6 “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
Eternity hurts my brain. When I try to think of existence without limits, it is dizzying! It is like trying to imagine that all of space goes on forever without end. I can't wrap my mind around the reality, even if I can intellectually acknowledge it's probability. When I think of God's eternal existence, it helps to have words like Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. It puts verbal limits on eternal realities. I don't know what is beyond visible space, but I trust that God is there. I don't know what is beyond time and creation, but I trust that God is there. I don't know what lies beyond the boundaries of this life, but I trust that God is there. And the Alpha & Omega, the Beginning & the End is at work constantly giving water of life freely to all who would come.
Am I really trusting God to be good and generous and kind? Can I entrust all that I do not understand or cannot comprehend to God's nature and love?
Deuteronomy 11:12 “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”
This verse is referring to the Promised Land, the territory that Israel believed to be God's inheritance for them. I'm not sure where I stand on the idea of God giving land to this group or that—it seems to be an excuse for all kinds of atrocities and not the basis for many niceties throughout the centuries. Still I find the reference to the land to be intriguing. God's eyes are on the land. All year long, God is watching over it. This verse along with one in 2 Chronicles 36:21 declaring that when the people are in exile the land will finally get its sabbath rest remind me that God is not only interested in human history. God created all things. The land, the sky, the sea, and all the creatures that inhabit each sphere. God loves humanity, but God also cares for all of creation.
If God's eyes are on the land, what is my responsibility to care for it as well? Am I making a positive or negative impact on the world around me through the choices I make in what I consume?
1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
Take a moment to think about the beginning of your faith. Were you raised in a believing family? Did you attend Sunday School? What did you experience in those early days that made a connection and keeps you connected? John writes of the things seen, heard, touched, and remembered. When we remind ourselves of why we believe, we can more easily tell our story to others.
When was the last time you pondered your experiences of God at work in your life? How can you share those unique experiences with others to encourage their faith?