“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher
I doubt that too many would argue about mankind’s inherit desire to produce order out the chaos of this world. As soon as we are born we seem to struggle against chaos by trying to order our lives and predict their paths. But it seems that bringing order from the chaos—both at a personal level and a global level—may be a losing battle. For all the good we bring into life, we often find we may bring just as much bad.
The Bible talks about this issue, in fact, I would say that this issue is interwoven into the entire narrative of the scriptures starting with the first few verses. In Genesis 1:1-2, we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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” (NIV). Notice two particular words here: “formless” and “empty.” The image is of a place of chaos and empty of any purpose—there may be days when we feel this of our lives.
We often feel like chaos is all around us so we invest most of our lives trying to control it in some way. We may try to control our financial insecurities by buying a lottery ticket, or we might get a degree that allows us to pursue a more proven path toward financial security. A person might try to control the chaos of marriage and children by walking away from them; while another may choose to become more intimately involved.
There are as many ways of trying to bring order out of chaos as there are people; and some of those methods seem to work much better than others. But none of them actually control chaos, they simply allow us to survive a bit longer in the madness.
What often happens in of our search for order is that we find our own lives to be empty of anything but this need to control the chaos. Many of us have had a void in our lives that is so powerful that it demands to be filled with something. And so we begin the common practice of filling our lives with things that we think will complete us. And so we seek purpose in fame or riches; we may seek popularity or to feel needed.
Some of us will become whatever we think this world wants us to become in order to fill the void with acceptance. This vacuum that attracts all these things ends up filling us with the very chaos that drove us to this emptiness in the first place, and our lives become a vicious cycle of chaos and emptiness.
This may be why the Bible begins with chaos and emptiness, so that we might realize that they are a real part of our world today—not be creation, but because something is missing. After describing the world as formless and empty, the Bible says that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” This is one of the most significant phrases in all of scripture. “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. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (V 2-3).
The point is not to describe exactly what creation looked like, but to reveal the reality of the chaos without God, and the creation in the presence of God. As soon as the Spirit of the Lord was present in the chaos and emptiness, light was brought into the darkness. This is the repetitive moral theme through the entirety of the Holy Bible.
We live in a world full of chaos and emptiness; it is unavoidable. And we all seek to bring order out of the chaos of our lives; but the Bible tells us that the only way to do so is in the presence of God. Light will truly begin to displace the darkness only when we allow the Holy Spirit to “hover” over our lives. Then we can also become the people who reflect His image back into creation so that every person and all of creation may find order and purpose in Him. Invite Him into your life today!
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