IN THE BEGINNING…

I. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

What we see may not always look like God at work, and every beginning is not always a rainbow.  Here, “in the beginning,” God was at work, yet the state of affairs was a trinity of chaos: formlessnessemptiness, and darkness. By what expert theology can anyone convince any other person that those states of affair are the sign that God is at work? Where God is, and when God is at work, there should be fullness, not a void (Psalm 16:11).  In fact, there should be an overflow, as well as light, not darkness; for He Himself is Light (Revelation 4:3-5).  On the contrary, this epic ‘beginning,’ with the Great Designer Himself at work, was marked by three apparent lamentable woes: ugliness and emptiness and darkness. Strangely, some beginnings are like that. Formlessness and void and darkness do not always mean the absence of God.  Sometimes they are merely the sign of a great beginning.

The Bible story of Lazarus serves a useful illustration. ‘In the beginning’ when Jesus got the information (or received the ‘prayer request’) about the terribly sick condition of Lazarus, He said “This sickness is not unto death” (John 11:4). But Lazarus did die. Did Jesus become a false prophet therefore? No. That was merely the disappointingly ‘formless’ and ‘dark’ beginning of something greater that the Master was up to.  The end proved Jesus right as Lazarus became the attraction to where Jesus was; as the apparent crisis of yesterday became the basis of the wonder today (John 12:9). The things we see might sometimes seem to say that God has been false.  Wait.  It could merely be the formless and void and dark signs of a great beginning.   The end will prove Him right.  Often, we have erred for judging beginnings as if they were the completion.  According to an ancient hymn, “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”

God took Prophet Ezekiel to a valley full of dead dry bones. It was a very sorry, very helpless sight. God asked the prophet, “Can these bones live again?”  The prophet wisely returned the question back to God.  “Thou knowest,” he replied.  That apparently distressing sight down in the valley was merely the beginning. In the end, those lifeless bones had become “an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:1-10).

Did you ever visit a great sculptor at his studio?  What did you find? Broken bits of ugly wood. Did you meet him at work on a chunk of unattractive timber?  As he chopped off this and that from here and there, you might have protested, “Hey, that doesn’t look beautiful at all.  This is no masterpiece.” And he might have said to you, “Just give me time.  This is only the beginning.”  Often, we get attracted to the beautiful showroom, forgetting the ugly workshop where it all started.  Masterpieces didn’t have their beginnings in the classy showroom.  Many have missed their showroom who missed the workshop because it did not look like the proper process to the place of their palatial dreams.

Are you in a ‘beginning’?  Do not despair.  God could be at work.  ‘In the beginning’ of all beginnings, the Master Creator Himself was at work, yet to the observing eyes even of the inspired Reporter, everything seemed formless (without shape, without apparent pattern, without order), void (without Presence, and dry), and dark (without Light, and apparently without God).  In other words, it was a trinity of chaos.  Ironically, that ‘hopeless’ and ‘chaotic’ condition became the attraction for much more: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).  There was a ‘desperate’ and ‘chaotic’ and ‘formless’ need, so the Spirit of God moved there.  May your great need and your reliance on God this day attract the Move His Spirit upon your waters.  Amen.

Whereas the narrative had started with formlessness and void and darkness, in the end, the report was different.  The initial formless ‘clay’ in the hands of the Expert Potter had become a masterpiece (Jeremiah 18:3-6). The initial absence and void had been filled with His glorious fullness, the initial formlessness with His Beauty, and the initial darkness with the brightness of His glory.  We have moved from the chaotic ‘workshop’ at the beginning, to the Edenic showroom in the end.  “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, It was VERY GOOD” (Genesis 1:30).

God is not about to give up on you until He has brought you through the preliminary chaos to the final showroom of excellent goodness.  Let no ‘formless’ ‘beginning’ despair you.  In our lives and our land, may we wait for the final verdict of everything “very good.”  According to Solomon the Wiseman, The end of a thing is better than the beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) especially when God is in it.  It is unwise to measure beginnings with the standards of the completion; to judge workstations with the parameters of the showroom. Amen.

From the Preacher’s diary,
April 4, 1998.

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