The Space Before Life

In the beginning, when there was darkness and chaos, God was on the cusp of doing something new and wonderful. He was about to make a world out of nothing, a creation brimming with life, beauty, and possibilities. 

If I were God, I think I would have snapped my fingers and made it happen all at once. I would have been weary of holding the wonder of waterfalls, sunsets, and galloping zebras in my imagination. I would have wanted to bring them into being yesterday.

Yet, even in the beginning of all things, even before sin entered the world, even before the need for forbearance existed, God was patient. 

God didn't create life until day three.

First, our Creator was present to the darkness and chaos. Then, God brought forth light from within the darkness. After light, it was not yet time for life. It was time for the separation of the waters. 

Before God created life, He made space. 

Chaos-darkness-light-space-life. It's a cycle that is repeated time and again in our lives. Whenever I find myself in the cycle, I want to shortcut the process and jump right to life. After all, space is the wide open feeling of vulnerability and exposure. Who likes feeling like they are standing naked in the dirt?

Yet, despite my objections, God patiently walks me through the space each time. Or maybe more accurately, God holds me tight while I kick and scream and try to bolt through the discomfort. He won't let me shortcut. 

Our patient God values process as much as product. He did not simply thrust full grown plants into being. Our Creator tenderly fashioned lilies and strawberries, cacti and redwoods into seeds, seeds He then called the earth to birth into plants. 

The earth was exposed and ready to partner with God in bringing life because God first created space.

----

There is an oft repeated word in the Genesis account of creation: good. In Hebrew, tov

There is a long description of the creation of plant life before the word tov is used to describe it. The vegetation is not tov when it is seed, nor trees, nor trees with fruit on them. The vegetation is only tov once the seed has become a tree bearing fruit with seeds of future life in it. Seeds ready to start the process of new life all over again.

This, perhaps, is the best way to understand the word good. Life that brings life that brings life that brings life. This is good. This is tov.

------

Here at the beginning of 2015, I find myself in the space of transition. Jobless and wondering what is next. It is space that feels vulnerable and frightening, but also, important. It's time for new life to be born and this is the soil from which it will grow.

In these days, trust is less of an abstract theological concept and more of a daily necessity. And as I reach for it, I find myself returning time and again to the word tov.

The tov of this space. Good for what it is and for the potential it holds for the future. 

The tov that is coming. Not just life, but life with the seeds of future life in it. 

The tov of God. Tov for what He does and, most of all, for who He is.

Tov is the beautiful process of birthing something new. It is the life that brings life that brings life that brings life. It is true and deep goodness. 

Tov is my word for 2015.

image.jpg

I could think of no other way to illustrate this word but to create an original art piece. It begins in the darkness of the lower right corner, and moves into light and life and tov dropping seed to start itself over again. The page also has an uncomfortable amount of space, in my opinion. Which felt frustrating, but also just the way it was supposed to be.

Comment

hidden reality

Hidden reality As we drive through Indiana at night, red lights dot the landscape around us. It is strange. They are everywhere, and in seemingly well-spaced rows. I wonder what they could be.

An airport? Cell phone towers? An alien landing?

I would keep wondering, except that the answer suddenly pops into my head. Not because I can see what is behind the red lights, but because I remember driving this passage during the day.

Windmills. Gigantic windmills, which, during the day, are impossible to miss. They are white monstrosities dotting the landscape of otherwise serene farm fields. It is hard to believe that at night I can see nothing but the flashing red lights, warning airplanes of their existence.

I think we are often blind to things going on around us.

There is a neat little story in 2 Kings 6. Elisha the prophet has been warning the king of Israel of the king of Aram’s plans to fight him. Outraged, the king of Aram sends his army to Dothan, where Elisha is staying, and surrounds the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. – 2 Kings 6:15-18

In our culture, we are consistently pushed to trust in only what we can see and touch. But the Bible says that there is not only a material world, but a spiritual one. It tells us that there are forces at work all around us: forces of good and forces of evil. And pretending the spiritual world does not exist is as ridiculous as ignoring a field full of windmills.

Thankfully, God understands human weaknesses. He knows that though our reason is meant to support our faith, it sometimes works against it. So, just like the red lights placed on the windmills, He provides us with signs that there is more to this world than meets the eye.

There are signs of good forces at work. Prayers get answered. Miraculous healings occur. People are victorious over the sins that once ruled their lives. Generosity is witnessed even in difficult economic times.

There are also signs of the dark forces at work. The prevalence of depression. The brokenness of families. The destructive choices that have become social norms.

As we think about the good and evil forces all around us, we need not loose hope. Just like Elisha, we can remember that the One who is for us is stronger than what is against us.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:31-32, 37-39

Amen.

2 Comments