In the Beginning – So What?
In the beginning

Talking about beginnings seems especially appropriate during the month of January. A new month. A new year. And in this case, a new decade.

The Bible also starts with “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). “In the beginning, God created….” We’ve heard those words so many times, they may have lost much of their impact.

Take a moment to think about it. God created the universe and everything in it, including the planets and the stars. And the way we think about those stars influences our perspective of the nature of God.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Problem is, many of us are not as impressed by the magnitude of the natural world as we once were. We live at a time in which humanity decides which planets meet the minimum standards to be called planets and which should be downgraded (think Pluto).

We teach children how to cut out paper stars, or maybe we recall doing that way back in kindergarten. And we’ve grown up on nursery rhymes such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Remember the sweet words from this poem by Jane Taylor?

Here’s the first verse:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

“Little star” and “Like a diamond.” No wonder we’re not impressed when we read that God made the stars and hung them in place (Job 9:9). Somewhere in the back of our mind is the image of a jeweler using tweezers to place a little diamond in its setting.

And because we’ve minimized stars in our thinking, the natural, although unintended, consequence is that we’ve minimized their Creator.

The Power of the Sun…and the God Who Created It

Time for a reality check. Consider the following statistics regarding the star at the center of our own solar system, otherwise known as the sun.

According to Wikipedia, “a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that…radiates into outer space.” Our own sun has a diameter of 864,000 miles of hot plasma and accounts for “99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System….converting 4 million tons of matter into energy every second.”

And all those other twinkling little stars in our night sky? Each one is a similar fireball in its own right. There’s nothing little about these stars and there’s nothing little about the God who created them in the beginning.

So what fireball are you facing in your life today? And even if you’re not facing a crisis now, what awaits you and me in this new year? Will you join me in committing to trust the One who hung the fireballs—aka stars—in space? If He can do that, He can certainly handle whatever we’ll be facing!

How Do You Handle Disappointment?

New year. New possibilities. Good thing, too, because many of us look back on various events in the old year and say, “Good riddance!”

Still, despite the “Happy New Year” greetings, disappointments will follow us into the new year, too. So what do we do with them?

For me, handling disappointment, (and positive events, too!) begins with remembering who I belong to. My perspective changes radically when I filter everything that happens to me through the attributes of our great God. Consider these examples:

Sovereign – God is both Sovereign over world events and the things that happen to me personally. Nothing touches me that hasn’t first been sifted through His fingers.

Father – God’s tender care for His children means that even when He allows negative things to happen, they are for my eternal good.

Omniscient – while events may be a surprise to me, they are never a surprise to my heavenly Father.

Provider – Because He knows my needs before I do, He will provide what I need at just the right time. Sometimes it will be resources, other times it will be strength, courage, or encouragement by others.

Accessible – He is always with me and is only a prayer away.

Gracious – He doesn’t give me what I deserve, but He does give me what I don’t deserve – so grateful for His mercy!

These are just a few of the characteristics of God that remind me I can trust Him no matter what the new year may bring. I hope you can say the same.

As we begin the new year, what attributes of God bring you comfort as you face the unknown?

Death Comes in Threes?

My mother used to say death comes in threes.

I remember hearing her remark, during my childhood, about how one person died, then another died a few days later, and who would be the third? As I grew older, I chalked it up to superstition.

But trouble does seem to come in waves, doesn’t it?

I lived an illustration of this point a few years ago (which I journaled because the whole experience was so bizarre). In less than a week we encountered the following:

Saturday: no electricity in the entire house
Sunday: the car wouldn’t start
Monday: took the car in for repair (and a big, fat repair bill)
Tuesday: the telephone land line died
Wednesday: found a HUGE infestation of ants in the dog food bin (ewww!)
Thursday: the central air conditioner stopped working

Three weeks later:

Our irrigation system stopped working
Our well collapsed
A toilet leak flooded the bathroom

One week after that:

I chipped a tooth AND
lost a house key.

All those events combined don’t compare to what happened last week. In one week, I learned of four deaths that touched people I knew locally: three people lost their husbands, and another lost her father. Within my extended publishing community, two Christian authors also died.

As I lamented these deaths, a friend in Alaska emailed me to say three of her friends lost their moms during that same same week. And this week, another friend lost her mother.

Times like these make me thankful for my Refuge.

When I wrote One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God, it was a joy to focus on God’s nature and His ways. During difficult times, I am especially driven to the names and attributes of God that remind me of His sovereign care. For example:

Abba – He is the intimate Father who cares for His child. I am precious to Him.

       Matthew 6:32 (NLT) – “Your heavenly Father knows all your needs.”

 Refuge – He is a safe haven. I can run to Him and enjoy the safety of abiding in His presence.

Psalm 91:4 (NIV) – “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”

Compassionate – In His compassion, He sees my pain and alleviates my suffering in ways only He can.

    Nehemiah 9:31 (NASB) – “You are a gracious and compassionate God.”

Comforter – He has promised never to leave me alone. His Spirit comforts me in my darkest moments.

John 14:16 (KJV) – “He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.”

I am so grateful to know, whatever my situation, there is a relevant name or attribute of God that will draw me to Him and meet me where I am…even during the worst of times.

What are some names and attributes of God you run to during difficult times?