“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was barren, with no form of life. It was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.” (Genesis 1:1-2)
Have you ever been in real, true darkness? I once took a tour of a twisting cavern system far beneath the surface of the earth. When we were deep into the caverns, the tour leader turned off all the lights, and we were instantly enveloped in the total and utter absence of light. I could hear people breathing and the drip, drip, drip of water in the distance, but with my eyes open or closed, I saw the same thing—darkness.
This darkness is what I imagine when I read the first two verses of Genesis. God had created the heaven and the earth, but they were not as we know them today. The newly-created earth was a lifeless ball of dirt and stone, covered by a violent ocean, and surrounded by total darkness. There was neither light nor life. It was inhospitable and desolate.
But the Spirit of God was hovering over the chaos and change was coming.
The word translated as, “hovering,” is used only one other time in the Bible. Deuteronomy 32:11 speaks of a mother bird hovering over her young, keeping them safe and teaching them to fly. When Genesis speaks of the Holy Spirit hovering over the earth, it is an image of a bird spreading its wings and caring for its young. Through the Holy Spirit, the darkness on the earth eventually gave way to light, and the chaos gave way to order.
The Holy Spirit still hovers over us today, bringing light into our darkness and order into our chaos. He guides us into God’s plan for our lives and fills us with strength and power.
In those times when our lives seem dark, desolate, and barren, we can remember that the same Holy Spirit who dwells within us brought fruitfulness and life out of a void, barren earth. It’s the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (see Romans 8:11). What the Holy Spirit did during creation and at the resurrection of Jesus, he can and will do for us today.
If you wonder about the role of the Holy Spirit in your life, know he is the one who guides you when you find yourself lost in darkness and chaos. He directs your steps toward the purpose God has planned for your life. He dwells within you and provides the power to overcome any obstacle you face.
Dear God, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to guide me, to help me, and to teach me. I am comforted by knowing the Holy Spirit hovers over me, dwells within me, and brings order to the chaos in my life. Help me lean into the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’s name, amen.