Light On The Subject— Day One
To enter into God’s story is to enter into mystery. In this story there are people, places and things. There is destiny and there is choice. Instead of there being a contradiction in that, not to overuse the term, there is mystery. If we are to see God as the author and perfecter of our faith then we know that He sets the setting. What is left is the how and why of it. The how is from His power and Word. The why is because He is relational and His highest values are faith, hope and love. We can see that in this world as a little light is shed on the subject.
1 In the beginning when God created[a] the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
With the Spirit of God sweeping over the waters, what is the point? There is no one existing there yet, so where is the relationship that makes the presence of Holy Spirit important? My best answer is that for Jesus’ incarnation to happen or for the Holy Spirit to bless the work of creation, the earthly realm needs to be shadowed with opportunity of the miraculous in some way. In Luke 1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God”.
Is this like when Christians are baptized into Christ and then we begin to be formed in the image of Christ? Emotionally, I want to say yes, but that would make God coercive or forceful of any conversion experience if I say this is a hint of any future substantive faith experiences. Instead, what is implied is the nearness of God that happens before any creation provides mutual cooperation. There is a theological mountain of difference between the Spirit of God being over creation compared to coming upon the creation in a formal way. The nearness of God is an opportunity and not a matter of imposed will.
A stark difference is when the angel Gabriel comes to a little lady much later in Roman-ruled Palestine. He announces to her with high regard that the plan was for the Holy Spirit to come upon her and she would give birth to the Emmanuel (God with us). She then responds, “Let it be done unto me according to your word”. She was an animate person with her free will and not objectified. Likewise we should be when we feel that tug in our hearts or however way God gets our attention. We also see something powerful that God is creating. He provides an extension of Himself in the story without watering down His essence.
There is also something powerful in the imagery of the Spirit of God and being over the waters. What we have is a matter of birthing that God is doing that foreshadows the natural birth that physical being would have but also of the new creation in Christ. Is that a far fetched application?
One could look no further than Jesus’ own words where He said, ““Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5). Through the above passage of Genesis we see God is up to double-meanings because His purposes are for an eventual coming together of everything.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
This light was not Jesus because He is not a created being. But it brings definition, or shape, of what little there is in the world that was previously “formless and void”. God is calling the light time Day and the dark time Night. His first message to us is that sometimes everything is clear and distinct and sometimes there is not but He is in charge of it. He also calls the full cycle to start in darkness and then brighten up because the order of the day here one that starts in darkness and brightens at the coloring of dawn. In our spiritual lives we should expect to start from our emptiness and lack of form and progress on truth and the form for us that comes with Him shedding light on the subject: us and our need for wholeness.
But God does not just complete the day with truth and an appreciation of knowledge by His created light only, but also by grace when He says the light is good. He speaks, it happens and that is an objective truth. He also calls it good and it is. He ascribed value to what He made. This is grace working with truth. But much later an ex-fisherman wrote, “The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Though we may not appreciate in the text of Genesis, we see Jesus being the center of this completely in hindsight through the New Testament. “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God”.
So what is this? A day of birth, grace, truth and waiting for God to paint the darkness into dawn in such a way that illuminates the formless and fills the void. When Sacred Scripture says that now is the day of salvation, this shows us His values for what being saved is all about. It is starting again, receiving from above, knowing what is stable and willingness to be patient for God’s timing.
So if this shows us a natural way, how should we face the times of darkness or when we begin to sense an enlightenment spiritually? Just be a recovering sinner borrowing from the 12 Steps: admit your powerlessness in avoiding selfishness and give yourself over to a Higher Power. From there, who knows? He could then shed a lot of light on the subject of that which is “formless and void” in your life.