I see something new everytime I read Genesis 1. It is fitting to read this chapter as I prepare for the new year, 2019, because this is the moment before it all began. Whether we are in the moment or looking back on it, the memory of any beginning is very special. From new life, new loves, new friends, new jobs, new opportunities, beginning’s are special because to begin means that anything is possible. As an entrepreneur, I love the beginning. When God led me to create By This Love, I was thrilled. I imagined all of the things I would create: books, devotionals, toolkits, blog posts, social media – it was an exciting time. Of course, the work is another thing. Nonetheless, today, as I reflect on Genesis 1 and the importance of beginnings, there is one thing about the beginning described in this chapter and the beginnings we experience in life, that I want to share: beginnings provide blueprints.
Genesis 1 is a demonstration of how God creates. In just 31 verses spanning the length of 6 days, God transformed a formless, empty, and dark earth into a world with light, sky, land, seas, plants, trees, animals, sun, moon, and stars. In Genesis 1:1-5, it reads:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he 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.
Not only is God a creator but God is our creator and he made us in his likeness and image. If we are made in God’s image and likeness then we are creators. Since we are creators then we might consider how God created the earth as a model for how we should create. I believe that in the first five verses of the Bible, God provided a model that we can follow to understand and learn how to create like our Creator. How do we use our creative power in a way that reflects God’s likeness and image?
Creating like God begins with sharing God’s perspective. When God saw a formless, empty, dark earth he decided to create. Genesis 1:2 reads:
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
There are three words in this verse that reflect three things about the condition of the earth at that time: formless, empty, and, darkness. These three words offer an understanding of the circumstances in which God created the earth.
God created in a place that was formless. Formless is defined as “without a clear or definite shape or structure.” The Hebrew word for formless is תֹּהוּ tôhûw (pronounced: to’-hoo). Tôhûw means “to lie waste; a desert, destruction.” It can also mean “a worthless thing.” God’s desire is to bring form to the formless. In this context, waste is defined as “devastate or ruin.” Desolation is defined as “a state of complete emptiness or destruction” or “anguished misery or loneliness.” What is your perspective of the things and people that others consider worthless? How do you view destruction and loneliness? Do you perceive this as the perfect canvas for your God given creation powers?
Second, the word empty comes from the Hebrew בֹּהוּ bôhûw (pronounced: bo’-hoo). Bôhûw means “to be empty, a vacuity, void.” Vacuity is defined as “lack of thought or intelligence; empty-headedness.” If you are like me vacuity is a source of frustration. Lack of thought can almost seem unbearable, especially when those who lack thought have power. Nonetheless, God wants us to create in places where there is a lack of intelligence or thought. This is what makes God’s power so incredible: he created something from absolutely nothing.
Finally, the word darkness simply refers to the dark. The Hebrew word for darkness as it is used in Genesis 1:2 is חֹשֶׁךְ chôshek, (pronounced: kho-shek). In addition to darkness, chôshek can mean “misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness”. This word shares some of the meaning of formless and empty. Whereas, formless refers to the state of a physical location and emptiness refers to the state of the mind, darkness refers to the spiritual state of death and the emotional state of misery and sorrow. Darkness was the state of the world. I believe that God gave us a model for how and where we should create. God wants us to create in dark places. Instead of fear, God wants us to respond to darkness by going to it and creating in the midst of it. Therefore, creating like God means being willing to go to, create in, and transform darkness.
To be able to create like God, means to be willing to create in a formless, empty, dark places. We cannot fear misery (chôshek); we cannot neglect vacuity (bôhûw); we cannot disregard what some perceive to be worthless things (tôhûw). For, where there is destruction, death, ignorance, and wickedness, that is where we must go with the Spirit of God. When we create in formless, empty, dark places, we create like God.