I just returned from my Thursday morning Bible Study Fellowship class. This year we are studying Genesis, one of my favorite books in the Bible. Something from today’s lecture, by teaching leader Susie Guhne, was very interesting to me. I feel as if I’m being invited to ponder it more deeply, and since I focus more easily through the written word, I figured I might just kill two birds with one stone and turn my pondering into blogging.
The lecture focused on only two verses–verses 1-2 of chapter 1. Seems like not much meat for a full lecture, but trust me, the treasure to be mined from these 35 or so words is rich indeed. Yet the part that captured my attention most intently this morning includes only the last 10 words: And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Though I’ve studied in the past about how, from the very first verses in Scripture, the evidence can be found for the triune God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), I’ve always wondered the significance of the “Spirit’s hovering.” I mean, seriously, what’s up with this? One thing I’ve learned, however, (if I’ve learned anything at all!) is this: If it’s in the Word of God, it is significant!
Now the earth, prior to creation, is described as formless, empty, and filled with darkness. Chaos. And over this, the Spirit of God is hovering. Why, I ask? That seems like such a bizarre statement. Until you understand hovering more clearly. Another word that could be used to describe the Spirit’s action is brooding or brood, which means “to hover over or protect, like offspring”, “to cherish with feelings of tender love.” Or, it can also mean “to think deeply, sometimes with anxiety or unhappiness.”
So, with these definitions in mind, we could say that the Spirit of God was brooding over the emptiness, over the chaos that was before creation. He was feeling protective, as a mother protects and cherishes her young, while at the same time experiencing feelings of gloom and unhappiness over the darkness, the mess that was.
Of course, in no way am I suggesting that the Holy Spirit has an alias named Eeyore. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that He ached and groaned as He hovered over the expanse. Why? Because the Spirit, being fully God, knew exactly what was to come. He knew that very soon, out of that chaos and darkness, would come beauty and order and fullness. And He longed to witness this renewal.
Considering these ten words further–And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters–makes me wonder if that is how the Holy Spirit has experienced His relationship with me. That while I was still a wretched sinner, wandering far away from God, the Spirit of God was hovering over the emptiness of my life, brooding over me like a protective mother, experiencing feelings of gloom and unhappiness over the darkness, the mess that I was. And He longed to witness the glorious Renewal that was to come–beauty and order and fullness, all things made new–when I finally surrendered my life to Christ.
There is something about this picture that words cannot quite describe. Something that is so personal, a feeling of being loved so fully by the one and only God who created the heavens and the earth, that it is almost unfathomable.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)