Monday, September 21, 2009
Formless and Void
By Judy Vandiver
About a year ago, God gave me a beautiful insight into a passage of scripture. We had just sold our country home and moved into a community for active seniors. I thought it would be an excellent time to start a Bible reading program and read the Bible through in one year.
Opening my Bible to Genesis chapter one, intent on making some good progress with my new plan, I blazed through verse one. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I rolled along to verse two. “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.” Only a little over thirty thousand verses to go.
I saw the next words— “and God said”— but I could not go on. My eyes went back to verse two. I sensed there was a deeper message there than the relating of facts in the steps of creation, so I read the verse again. As I did so, I pictured a deep, black void. No shape. No little, round planet floating through the universe. Not even a star struggling to spit through the cosmos. Just utter darkness.
I probably would have looked at the empty, formless Earth and said, “What a mess. Forget it.” I’m sure my husband would have looked at it and said his familiar phrase, “that’s good enough.”
But, God hovered. Even before He shaped the world, He knew how His creation would turn out— and He cared deeply. I didn’t imagine His Spirit wafting like billowing yards of chiffon or tiny tendrils of fog. Yet, I felt Him hovering over the void. Hovering the way I had when I learned my father had cancer. Wanting to fix everything the way I had pined many years ago when my son’s vision was suddenly taken away. Staying close the way I did as each of my children learned to take their first steps.
I don’t believe He hovered because He saw polluted streams, or a gaping hole in the ozone layer, or smog rolling over barren land once covered with dense forests. He hovered because He saw me.
He saw me as I was when first formed; formless, empty, dark, not fit for human companionship, utterly without substance.
I read the two verses again, but this time I replaced certain words with my name. “In the beginning God created Judy. Now Judy was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of Judy, and the Spirit of God was hovering over Judy.” I began to see myself through the eyes of a devoting, loving, caring, and hovering Father. I could only become all I am created to be, by listening to the voice of the One that made me, planned my life, pined for me, and stayed close even in the darkest moments. I cried as I thought of how much God loved me. I began as an empty, worthless mess, but He wouldn’t leave me that way.
I read the verses again and substituted the name of my husband, children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings. Finally, I read it slowly, putting in the name of someone who had been a “thorn in my side.” God opened my eyes. “My thorn” was formless and empty. He needed so much. God still hovers, because He loves “my thorn” as much as He loves me.
It’s been almost a year since God filled me with a new attitude for “my thorn.” I have not finished reading the Bible within this year. When talking about it to God this morning, he told me not to fret over it. Rather than seeing us read the Bible through in a year, He’d much rather have us study it for a lifetime.
God still hovers over those without substance and are empty, those living in a world of darkness. Even there, God is present, ever hovering, even in the darkest moments—waiting to complete his creation.
To ponder on:
1. How are people sometimes without substance?
2. What does it mean to you to “hover?”
3. The story of the transformation of the Earth continues in Genesis. Does your transformation go forward or does it end at verse two?
4. Do you know someone who has been a “thorn in your side” or who is stuck at the end of verse two?
5. Substitute their name in the verse as I did mine above. Ask God to help you pray for that person.