The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
—Genesis 1:2 ESV
How do you start to engage with the One who, as Eugene Peterson translates this verse in The Message, “brooded like a bird” over the waters? Let’s start with the pronoun, He. The Holy Spirit is a He—a person—and a real living, breathing, relatable person. He has identity, feelings, and responses. He isn’t necessarily in a form we understand. He isn’t human like Jesus. He is the Spirit of Jesus, which means He is alive. The Holy Spirit is here; He is present, real, ready, and waiting.
In this passage, He is hovering and looking things over. He is waiting on His cue to be the agent of creation and change. He is anticipating and excited about what is to come. He is complete: the fullness of God, lacking nothing—even as He is surrounded by nothing. This person of God is God. He is the starting point, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the “bang” in the big bang, even before there was a perceivable bang. He created light and space. This was kairos‘time before time was created, and where there is only eternity. This kairos begets something new—chronos, our time-based reality. The Holy Spirit is a mother who delivers the universe into being.
I like to try to picture what He looked like hovering there in patient, pregnant waiting. He is waiting for the perfect timing of God’the moment to speak and begin. Having been there when three children were born, I can imagine the atmosphere of intense anticipation. Perhaps the angels around the throne that sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” held their breath in silence for a split second just before the Lord spoke.
These are fanciful imaginings; yet, I believe the Holy Spirit is worth dreaming about. He is worth getting to know and thinking about. To our church in this day and age, it is like seeking out a long-lost friend or relative. Francis Chan wrote a book about the Holy Spirit called Forgotten God; and indeed, it seems He has been benched instead of given the opportunity to play in our lives.
In Peterson’s translation of this verse, the Holy Spirit is waiting, like a mother bird waiting for the egg to hatch. He is still waiting for us—for our own desire to go deeper with God. Who better to engage with than the One whose job it is to reveal mysteries and explain all things; and the One who consoles, teaches, and even perfects our prayers so that they line up with God’s will?
It is important to see in this imagery that He is over, not yet on or in. He is not yet a part of His creation—not yet joined with it. But in the creating, He is leaving a part of Himself. The Holy Spirit finally fully joined in the person of Christ and in the new church after Pentecost. Still, He has always been present. He wants to be joined with you and me. The Holy Spirit is still full of the excitement of the creation and of the possibility for each day. He is excited about the possibility of today. He hovers. He waits—for you. Will you reach out to meet Him?
Come, Holy Spirit. I long for a deeper connection with You’the One who was present at the beginning and is present with me now. You are waiting on me to reach for You, and I am. Join with me today to better understand what it means to be in relationship with You and all the possibilities that holds. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What God-possibility can the Holy Spirit birth in your life right now?
- Using your creative imagination, how do you envision the conversation in the Trinity prior to the act of creation?
- How does the calling out of the Holy Spirit’s presence change or challenge your perspective on the creation narrative in Genesis 1?
- What situation in your life is formless and void that you want to see the Holy Spirit hovering over?