Do you ever wonder how God felt "in the beginning?" The Bible gives us a glimpse of emptiness and nothingness before God got to work on creation. But how did He feel looking into the chaotic expanse with His omniscient awareness of humanity's downfall? How did He feel as He began to create the universe?
There are many new beginnings throughout military life, from the time you first become a spouse to your first deployment to the numerous times you move someplace new. And somehow, no matter how accustomed to new beginnings we become, there's almost always something hard about them (even when we're excited they've arrived). Maybe it's those little butterflies in your stomach because you don't feel prepared. Or maybe it's big-time fear and anxiety because so much ahead of you is unknown. Or maybe it's the mixture of grief and joy as you leave dearly loved friends and start a new adventure.
Why is beginning so hard? Maybe it's because we love familiarity so much. Our instincts tell us that whatever we already know is safe. We already know the risks and understand how things work — we like to live within our comfort zones.
But beginning something new is like looking into the darkness when you're camping in a forest. The fire before you brings you comfort because it allows you to see whatever its light reaches. But as the sun goes down, the sounds of the forest become more and more intimidating. A breeze rustling the leaves begins to sound like a bear charging into camp because your vision can't reassure you of what's really "out there."
Beginnings are hard because they make us vulnerable. And vulnerability often goes hand in hand with fear, which can easily spiral out of control, making things seem worse than they are (ahem, the bear?). Will we like our next assignment? Will my kids make new friends? Will I make new friends?
Beginnings are hard because we almost never know the outcome that will follow.
Even though the beginning of creation in Genesis 1 looked similar to many of our beginnings — “without form and void," dark, and chaotic (Genesis 1:2, ESV) — there is a key difference between us and God, and how we experience them. God could already see the outcome. He knew exactly what to do, and He could see it from beginning to end, just as he sees every new beginning you undertake.
“Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me” (Psalms 139:4-5, ESV). This psalmist ruminates over how deeply and intimately God knows each and every one of us — not just who we are as people, but everything about our lives from before we were even conceived and on to our final breath. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalms 139:16, ESV).
What seems unknown to you is not unknown to God.
That means that what seems unknown to you is not unknown to God. That although every new beginning feels like looking out into the darkness, God sees clearly ahead of you. “If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,' even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you" (Psalms 139:11-12, ESV). When we face the unknown of beginning, God already sees the way clearly. He doesn't promise that it will be easy, but He does promise that He is behind you and ahead of you, all the while walking beside you with His hand on your shoulder, putting your chaos into perfect order.
When a new beginning feels like looking out into the dark, it's God's vision in perfect light that we must rely on. It's His ultimate good intentions towards us — through the ultimate new beginning He gave us in Christ — that we have to learn to trust.
But in order to trust, we have to release our fear and worry. We have to make a conscious choice to stop the fearful and anxious thoughts that race through our heads by telling ourselves the truth.
Take a tip from the Creator of new beginnings: in the beginning "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2, ESV). God wasn't racing back and forth. God wasn't looking around frantically, wondering what to do. God wasn't looking back at His old life longingly. He was hovering — He was present. When we change careers, PCS, or start something new, there is often much to do. But sometimes, it's important to take a moment to be present and remind yourself of how far God has brought you and trust how far He'll take you.
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Get 3-5 notecards. On front of each notecard write down things you do every day that don’t require a lot of mental energy (i.e. driving, unloading/loading dishwasher, showering, meal prep, etc.). On the back of each card, write down one fear/anxiety. Every time you do the activity on the front of the card, it should serve as a reminder for you to pray about the anxiety/worry you have on the back.
What new beginnings has God placed before you? (A new job? A PCS? Are you a new milspouse?)
What are your fears and anxieties about this new beginning? Why do you feel fearful about it? What is the root fear of each specific worry/anxiety (i.e. fear of loneliness, fear that I won’t be accepted, fear that God will abandon me, fear that God will not provide like He promises He will in Scripture, etc.)?
How has God promised to be with you? How does knowing that God already knows the outcome of your new beginning change your experience?
As Philippians 4:6 says, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (ESV). How does God want us to handle anxiety? What are other ways you can remind yourself to trust God and walk in the confidence that he is a great God to trust?
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Monday: Genesis 1
Tuesday: Psalm 139:1-12
Wednesday: Psalm 139:13-24
Thursday: Psalm 46
Friday: 2 Corinthians 5:14-19
Saturday: Lamentations 3:16-29, Hebrews 11