i told my friend, “only children get excited over watching a butterfly.”
but then he turned to me and said,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that it was good.
—the opening words of the Bible (Genesis 1:1-4)
Darkness and God lived side by side.
The Bible doesn’t say anything about God creating the darkness. It was just “Let there be light”—no “Let there be dark.” Apparently, darkness was already there before he ever spoke, just hanging around with God from the beginning of the beginning, from the edges of forever.
But I guess God finally got tired of the cloak of darkness, so he told his first story. He spoke and light appeared.
“Let there be,” he said. And there was.
According to that verse, before God created anything, he was daydreaming about me. At the dawn of time, I was on his mind. And I’m not exactly sure why he did it. I don’t think anyone knows his precise motivation. Personally, I think he got sick of the darkness. I think since God is love, he couldn’t stand the thought of spending eternity alone in the dark without someone to love. He needed companionship because love gives, shares, sacrifices, woos. It has to. Or else it isn’t love.
Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.” Those words really connect with me because if this universe was all part of God’s adoption plans, then the origin of life on earth wasn’t the product of chance or even intelligent design; it was all because of love.
While darkness swirled around him, he dreamt about us and he loved us. His unchanging plan has always been to have a close relationship with us. That was God’s first dream, and it gave him great pleasure.
Then he shaped the world backward through time so that we would arrive at just the right moment in just the right place on just the right planet as part of a divine, intergalactic dream-come-true.
He couldn’t adopt us into his family until he’d created a place for us to live, so he created the heavens and the earth. God spoke the first words and the darkness split in half. Light entered the universe. And God saw that it was good, so he kept going. He whispered out a full moon and shouted a billion stars into space so his children wouldn’t have to look up at a lonely sky on that first night of their lives.
I’ll leave the theological and cosmological and philosophical explanations of how he did it, and when he did it, and how long it actually took him to do it to the people who have the time and energy to study that sort of thing. I don’t think it’s really an integral part of the story. If it was, God would have been more careful to get us the specifics, maybe by handing Adam and Eve a doctoral dissertation explaining everything. “Here, guys, this should clear it up. I cover the Big Bang theory, the fossil record, Neanderthals, carbon dating, and everything. And just so there’s no confusion, I’ve included a timetable for you. The footnotes refer to a few websites that won’t be written for a few millennia, so you can just skip those for now.”
The point is, the Creator created. He did it. He spoke it. He hung the canvas of the universe with his words. He invented time and space in a single breath. God spoke, and comets and glaciers and stardust and volcanoes and gophers and platypuses became reality.
He formed mountains on the tip of his tongue, blew kisses of red dwarves into the far reaches of space, said the word and trees and flowers and animals blossomed and bloomed and bolted across the land. The sunrise of Easter had its origin at the dawn of time when darkness fled before the words of God.
Then God touched the earth and formed a man and a woman in his own image. It wasn’t a physical likeness—how could it be if male and female were both created in the likeness of God? By the way, I don’t think being made in the likeness of God has anything to do with having toenails or tonsils or blue eyes or curly hair. Instead it includes stuff like being passionate about peace and quick to laugh and full of wonder and imagination and love and longing and life. Then God poured a questioning spirit into his children, along with dreams and persistence and salty tears and a dash of joy.
And the LORD God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person. . . . And the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.” . . . Then the LORD God made a woman . . . and brought her to Adam.
Genesis 2:7, 18, 22
So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.
I think it’s pretty cool that God made people—both male and female— in his own image. The image of God is found in our unity as well as our uniqueness. There’s a great equality here. A completion of each other. Our fullness reflects his fullness. Males being male and females being female reflect a clearer, sharper image of the Creator. And then God rested from his work. He stepped back and looked at this world teeming with life and hope and possibility, budding and growing and glistening everywhere, and looking forward to the future.
“Yeah, this is good,” said God. “If I do say so myself, this is really good.”
touching the unseen
oh, in the beginning, when you were alone,
did you dream of someone like me?
in the beginning, from soil and stone,
when you breathed out a world to be . . .
did you dream a great dream,
did it glisten and gleam,
for all of the angels to see?
in the beginning, in the depths of your heart,
were you thinking, already,