We were in a boat along the west coast of Florida. Big thunderstorms had blown up all around our horizon. So my fishing buddy fired up his Coast Guard frequency on the radio to try to see the best way for us to return safely to the boat launch. What he got back on the radio was a muddied voice in the middle of a ton of background noise. Little by little he turned up the squelch button until the voice on the other end was clearly heard.
There are few chapters of the Bible that match the beauty and transformation content of the first chapter of our Bibles (Genesis 1:1-31). Unfortunately, when most people think about this incredibly important message they only hear the arguments and controversies surrounding creation, evolution, and the truth of Scripture. So I am going to ask you to turn up the squelch button in your brain. Tune out all the arguments, litmus tests, and debates. Then take a few minutes to calmly read this important chapter through slowly. (Click this link to read Genesis 1:1-31). Before reading, ask the Holy Spirit to help you tune out the noise so that the voice of your Creator can be clearly heard. Embedded in this wonderful message is God's truth about who we are and the nature of the universe in which we live. Keep the squelch button turned up and drown out the noise. The Spirit can help you hear God's voice telling you how precious you are and how he longs to do his new creation work in you.
Before time and anything we know from our world, God existed. In the mysterious pre-primal nothing of formlessness, emptiness, and darkness, our God was (Genesis 1:1). Before there was matter and energy there was nothing... just the fearful nothingness and God. God as Creator, Son (John 1:1-3), and Spirit hovering over the vast void. The Spirit waiting to create out of nothing in response to the Creator's word of grace (Genesis 1:1-2). We know that something doesn't come from nothing... unless you are God. We intuitively realize that before there can be a big bang, there must be a Big Banger, who brings into being energy, light, matter, design, and purpose.
So with a word, God speaks. His word overcomes the fearful nothingness of pre-primal and primordial existence. Into nothingness, God speaks diversity. God calls into existence variety out of the inane void of nothing. God's gift is a dazzling variety of everything. Diversity carries a fingerprint of God's design. Variety is God's favorite color. If you don't believe it, then look at a lifetime of sunsets. The Creator defeated the monster of nothingness with variety and diversity filling a multitude of terrains, spaces, expanses, and seas.
Jesus told us that only God alone is completely good (Luke 18:19). So we shouldn't be surprised. Goodness is the divine thread that runs through the tapestry of unspoiled creation. God overcomes the indistinct formlessness of pre-creation with the goodness of his creative work. Out of formlessness, our Creator makes beauty.
As the creative Master does his work, we find an oft-repeated phrase that goes very much like this: God saw that it was good! Then, when his creative work needed its weekend's rest, God saw all that he had made and it was very good!
The ancients feared the chaos monster. This fear sounds very superstitious and crazy to us until... Then we are confronted with this monster in a severe drought, a raging fire, a rampaging thunderstorm with hail and lightning, a class 5 tornado, a storm surge of a hurricane, a slow rumbling vibration of a major earthquake, a mountain-moving explosion of a massive volcanic eruption, or an uncontrollable advance of a tsunami. These events bring chaos. They re-awaken us to our fear of chaos. They alert us to our terror at the hideous monster that lies behind such disasters. God defeated this pre-creation chaos by creating order and by creating with order, symmetry, and purpose. (See the chart in the image below.)
As we meet the Bible's God of creation — our Creator as Father, Son, and Spirit — we are reminded of God's eternal desire to connect life with relationships. So out of the impersonal emptiness of pre-creation, God brings relationship to life on earth. We are made to reflect the divine relationship in our Creator.
God did not make us to be alone. We are, after all, made in his likeness. We are made for life with him and with others. The Creator's intentionally repeated commands to love him with all we are and to love our neighbors remind us of God's relational imprint in us. This imprint testifies to both our need for others and our Creator's desire to bring us into relationship.
For all who struggle with loneliness and the emptiness of not connecting to others, God beckons you back to him first. Without him, we have a God-shaped hole that no other person or thing can fill. Anything or anyone else is merely weak imitation, a counterfeit become addiction that can never fill that hole in our soul. By drawing close to our God, we find ourselves in the company of others. We find life together. We were made for relationship, so God defeated the impersonal emptiness to bring relationship to life.
Yet all of this variety, order, beauty, and relationship can become predictable. God's gracious gifts can devolve into meaningless monotony. This boring sameness squeezes out life as we lose any sense of purpose to our Creator's gifts. We were created with purpose and for a mission. Over time that mission changes. It shifts as the Creator keeps calling us to go on the mission for his fresh creative purposes. While God's mission for us may morph over time, underneath these changes is an undergirding truth. We are made for something. That something is determined by the very God who made us. We are made to do the work of God. Jesus said it this way:
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and finish his work (John 4:34).
Our Creator chose to create our world, our universe, with variety, beauty, order, relationship, and purpose. These give life meaning. These fill life with joy. These call us to recognize that life is a gift among many gifts graced to us by our loving Creator. Our joy is found in celebrating and valuing these gifts, then recognizing the one from whom they come.
When our world seems too broken, or we seem too lost from its gifts, God has given us fresh hope through the promise of having his creative work dawn fresh and new in our own lives.
In Jesus, the Creator re-creates. Our God re-defeats all the monsters of primordial nothingness and makes things right in us, and through us for the world.
Yes, in the beginning, God...
And in every new beginning for us, is God!