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.


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.