… And so we begin, together: a new year, a new endeavor. I’d venture to say that many of us have attempted to read the entire Bible in a year before. Some have managed it successfully, others have floundered and fallen by the wayside after a few months, or a few weeks (or hey, even a few days, let’s be real).
Let’s do something new this time. Let’s share this process — share our insights with one another — and go on a wonderful journey together through this marvelous love story: the story of God’s relationship with mankind.
If you haven’t already caught up to today’s reading, I’ve included links above to the full text of our selected chapters. There is so much that could be said about just these four chapters — and I’ve got too much to say to confine myself to one main point, so I’ve organized my thoughts into a few subcategories.
As an aside, you will find throughout the course of this year that I’m not the deep theological scholar that some of our blog contributors are. I’m more of a poet, and once in a while I’ll run across a profound enough thought that others might find it worth reading. Hopefully there will be more of those this year than not, and if not, at least our Thursday blogger will make up for it. (What’s that? Why yes, we are related! And I’m very proud of my mother.)
In the Beginning…
We’re all familiar with this passage. Whether you believe it to be a literal blow by blow description of God’s actions in a seven-day time span, or a more anthropological accounting of the Creation story passed down from generation to generation in the Hebrew culture is irrelevant. It may be a fascinating debate for some, but the important point to take from Genesis 1 is that the world as we know it originated from an intentional act. God spoke — and His Word was all it took to create. (It’s taking a lot of willpower not to launch into John chapter 1 from here, but I won’t steal the thunder from the blogger who will be covering that in May.)
What will the Word create in our lives this year?
This fledgeling relationship between God and His creation hit a bump in the road pretty quickly, didn’t it? The honeymoon was over, and it had barely started. Good thing God was committed to seeing this relationship through — over and over again throughout the course of the Old Testament we will see how His people misunderstood Him, spurned Him, and flat out betrayed Him. But God (oh, I love that phrase: but God!) already had the perfect plan to make things right.
A New Beginning…
After thousands of years of a stormy, on-again, off-again (at least on their part) relationship with His chosen people, God decided it was finally time to do something completely different — something unexpected. To start over.
In Matthew chapter 1, we first see the fruition of God’s revolutionary plan: a baby. Emmanuel, God with us. We’ve just come through the Advent and Christmas season, and reveled in the wonder and the joy of that revelation. God. With. Us. There is so much power packed into those three words.
God. With us. With us. One of us.
Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing…
Beginning Again… and Again… and Again…
Did you ever stop to consider the nature of time? We are constantly starting over — a new year, a new season, a new month, a new week, a new day… Even throughout the day, every hour, every minute is an opportunity to start fresh: leave the past behind, forgive and forget, adopt a new attitude, make a change for the better.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says God’s mercies are new every morning. I once wrote into a song that His mercies are new every minute — morning is such an arbitrary designation, after all. The imagery of daybreak may evoke a fresh new beginning, but to those of us who are not morning people and prefer not to actually see the process, it may not be all that meaningful. Besides, at 9:30 PM, do you believe you’ve exhausted God’s mercy for the day and won’t get any more until the crack of dawn?
Any moment at all, when you draw near to Him, He has promised to draw near to you. Why wait for morning for a new beginning?
The Beginning and the End…
In Revelation 22:13, God describes Himself as the Alpha and Omega — the beginning and the end. The end? Isn’t that depressing? Especially when compared to the beginning?
But the reality is that all things, except God Himself, must end. Our world, and our lives, are impermanent. Along with beginnings, we are also confronted with endings, and often more frequently than we would prefer. God sees the end from every beginning — and it’s probably better that our human minds can’t see all that He sees, or we would live in dread of the endings, or try to prevent them, and never enjoy the present.
But God (there it is again — but God!) also sees the new beginning in every end.