Signposts: Daily Devotions

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
—Genesis 1:1-2

Long ago, I quit making New Year’s resolutions. The very process itself depressed and discouraged me because it focused on habits and attitudes I needed to change, and yet I knew from experience that I wouldn’t follow through on the resolutions for long. A whole year stretched ahead, full of the unknown and uncertainty, and focusing on negative habits that needed correcting only added to my anxiety.  

One New Year’s Day, I decided to take a deep breath, look around me, and simply be thankful: for life, for love, and for the present moment. It was a milestone for me, a whole new beginning.

“In the beginning,” according to the Book of Genesis, when God began to create our world, “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the earth”—symbolic language for chaos and evil.

Into this vast, chaotic void, “a wind from God swept over the face of the waters,” and the result was order, life, and light.  In Hebrew, the word wind (ruach) is synonymous with breath. Thus, in the beginning, God breathed new life, new order and peace into the world.

As the book of Genesis continues, we read that God continues to create, to form and shape the earth and its inhabitants. But the first step was perhaps the most profound: not action, but breath, the breath of God, subduing the turbulence and confusion.

This opening passage from Genesis offers us an effective and creative counterpoint to New Year’s Resolutions. We can breathe in with great thankfulness for our blessings, and then breathe out gratitude for the present moment. Who knows? We may bring a whole new world into being!

God our Creator, we thank you for breath, for life, for hope.  Help us to live each day of this New Year with renewed joy in each moment. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 Margaret Jones.