The Holy Spirit

He Still Hovers

“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.

fruit of the spirit

No Limits

“My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus!” (Philippians 3:1)

Limitations are good in some circumstances. For example, I limit my number of 72% dark chocolate squares to four per day (don’t judge me). But when it comes to joy, I’ll take all I can get.

Joy is one thing we don’t want to limit. For followers of Jesus, the joy available to us is limitless.

Apathy and distraction continuously tug at us to focus on our lives instead of God. We may think more about our dinner than about our deliverance, more about our hair than our hope.

When we think more about our day-to-day lives than Jesus, we find ourselves feeling happy when things are good, and miserable when things are bad. Friend, that’s not the joy of the Lord. That’s just happiness. Don’t settle for happiness when God offers us joy.

To experience unlimited joy, we must be proactive. We must actively pray and actively focus on the goodness of Jesus. We must not forget that our joy comes from him.

Any of us can become dull to the Lord. If left to our own devices, we all would veer toward spiritual apathy. Joy does not cohabitate with apathy.  Joy requires commitment and action.

Remember, when we maintain joy in the midst of troubles, we shine God’s light into the darkness. For a long time, it seemed that one room in my house was especially dark. I blamed it on the light fixture, but I finally figured out I had turned the dimmer switch way down. The light couldn’t get through. Maybe that’s true in our world today. Perhaps the world isn’t as dark as it looks. Perhaps we’ve allowed our lights to dim.

Our world has a serious joy deficiency. Everywhere we look we see negativity, fear, and darkness. The joy of the Lord is meant to shine brightly into the darkness and show the world what it means to be filled with incredible joy in spite of calamitous troubles. The joy of the Lord shines brightest in the darkest of times.

If we ever wonder what our purpose is, or why we’re on this earth, we can just think of all the people who need some joy, and all the darkness that screams for the light. C. S. Lewis said, “Here is a joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness, but your darkness cannot now infect our light.” The world desperately needs what we carry within us—the unlimited joy and light of a loving God.

Dear God, when I look at the world around me, I wonder if I can make any difference in the darkness. Remind me that I carry your joy and your light within me. Help me be an example of joy in a world filled with despair. I want to show everyone I meet what it means to be filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.