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Beginning in darkness

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A blank page. A clean slate. A fresh start. Sometimes it’s a gift but at other times it’s a vast expanse of limitless possibility that can send me spinning. I’ll sit down at a blank page to start writing and I’ll stand straight back up again. I’ll choose just about any other mindless task to avoid its empty stare.

It’s not just the writers and creatives who know this struggle. For all of us, the beginning of a new thing can be daunting and difficult. While we figure things out, we fumble awkwardly in the darkness of uncertainty and unknowing.

Right now, we face uncertainty and unknowing like never before. Our lives have been abruptly and radically changed. Many of the familiar structures and daily rhythms that have held us in place are gone. It’s a new thing, a blank page of life-size proportion. It is, at times, both daunting and dark.

Death to Stock Chasing Sunrise 3 Julian De Schutter

In this strange season, I’ve been drawn to these words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
(Genesis 1:1-2)

Though I have read them many times before, something now has struck me anew. God’s gloriously spectacular act of creation begins in darkness. A formless and empty space. The very first blank page, until God spoke into it and created heavens and earth, day and night, life in teeming abundance and humanity in his image. And all that he created was all so very good.

In my own substantially less majestic creative acts, my sitting and standing and running and wrestling with blank pages has led me to some of my own heart’s dark places. Places of uncertainty, unknowing and bone-deep fear. I have wept and waded through tears and in the process I have learned, more than once, that God still speaks life into the darkness. While our lives, our communities, our systems and economies have all been turned upside down, even into this darkness, God still speaks life.

Creation reveals God to us, his divine nature and power. My prayer is that now, as Christians, we would take hold of the creative potential that exists in this current darkness, and that our words and actions would bear a mighty witness to who we are in Christ.

While our lives, our communities, our systems and economies have all been turned upside down, even into this darkness, God still speaks life.

Jesus said we would be known as his followers by the love we have for one another. Just imagine all the innovative ways we can come up with to bless and serve each other, what heights of generosity we could reach for the sake of those who are hardest hit and, as the light shines on the injustice experienced by people living in our world’s most vulnerable places, how bold we could be in our recreation of systems that allow every person to flourish.

And you, as a dearly loved child, perhaps you might discover even greater comfort and inspiration in God’s gloriously spectacular creation. Perhaps paying more attention to the natural rhythms of day and night will help you to mark out the time you need to pray, to connect, to labour and to rest. Perhaps taking more time to notice the birds of the air and the lilies of the field will help to soothe your anxious heart and fill you with the peaceful assurance of God’s faithfulness and love.

Yes, God still speaks life and new things still have their beginning - even in the darkness.