Do you ever feel you’re in a chaotic mess? I’m spending much of my time either trying to avoid chaos or get out of it. Earlier this year—you know, New Year’s resolutions—I had the bright idea to reorganize my home office. I know what, I’ll (meaning my husband) build some shelves in the office closet to hold the printers and other equipment taking up my space.
Well, one thing led to another. Electrical and computer cables had to be redirected. Files had to be moved out of the closet to make space for the shelves. Everything was piling up in my office, so we could hardly get in and out.
Moving that equipment into the closet allowed us to get rid of some furniture, which meant moving around the other furniture. It was chaotic for days and it wasn’t long before I was apologizing to Ed and sorrowfully regretting my bright idea.
But then, all was put back in order. I had more space. The office looked much better, and Ed didn’t hurt his back. I promised him it would be years before I would change that office around again.
God likes order. It says in Genesis 1 that God created raw material out of nothing. And he took that chaotic mass of raw material and made a universe out of it. One planet he focused on in particular was our earth.
Genesis 1:1-3 (New Revised Standard Version): “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” We know the rest of the story.
With the subject of this article firmly in mind, I looked at several translations. The earth was “without form and void”; “formless and empty”; “void and vacant”; “unformed and void”; and finally in the Living Bible, “a shapeless, chaotic mass.”
Yes, I finally found the words I was looking for: chaotic mass.
God makes order out of chaos. But then, as he made everything, didn’t God also make the chaos? He had to make that shapeless, chaotic mass to begin with. Who is this God we worship? What’s he really like?
I know God is creative—wonderfully creative. No two snowflakes alike, no two fingerprints the same. When I watch in wonder at cloud formations swirling around changing patterns or at the ever-changing colors in a sunset, I’m looking at a moving canvas of art never to be repeated in quite the same way.
Before you scoff at abstract paintings, look at the most beautiful abstracts ever by viewing Hubble telescope’s photos of the stars, nebulas and the constellations. Or look at organic structures under a microscope. No one can create abstracts as beautiful as God creates.
And what about us humans? We start out tiny as the head of a pin, then through ingesting animal and vegetable products we grow into adults. How can wheat, rice, milk, beef, green beans, or here where I live in Texas, chicken-fried steak and biscuits and gravy grow a human being? Yet here we are, made out of a mess of seeds, grasses, fish and animals.
A meteorologist studying weather patterns in the 1960s came to the conclusion that because of the endless variations in the weather, we could never accurately predict the weather. It was too chaotic. The study was famous for saying even the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could change the weather—the butterfly effect. This eventually led to what is called Chaos Theory.
I won’t attempt to explain that theory, but in later studies what scientists considered chaotic: how weather changes, how tree branches grow, how blood veins branch out, all individually different and unpredictable, some brainiac came up with a formula that worked across these so-called chaotic patterns. To scientists’ astonishment, they found order even in chaos. There’s so much we have yet to learn about the mind of God.
Our God is the greatest artist, greatest architect, scientist, biologist, zoologist, physicist—greatest everything because he created everything. I wonder how much Christ knew in his physical form about what he created. The Bible writers are more concerned with what Christ did and taught, so few are the clues to what Christ understood about the world he lived in.
He changed water into wine. Did he understand the molecular structures he was working with? Did he need to? He healed people. Again, did he know exactly how the healing took place? Not sure if it mattered to him. His purpose was not to reveal the secrets of the universe but to redeem, reconcile and save us.
We live in a chaotic world full of people living chaotic lives. Before surrendering my will to God, I could describe my life as “without form and void.” Many are out there living in desperation, yearning for some kind of escape from the mess they’ve made of their lives. That’s where Christ comes in like the conquering hero he is.
Who is this God who calls himself the Creator? Jesus came to show us. He came to reveal the sovereign God. Some say we can learn about God through looking at his creation. That may be true to a point. As 17-century English poet John Milton wrote:
“The planets in their stations list’ning stood,
While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
Open, ye everlasting gates, they sung,
Open, ye heavens, your living doors; let in
The great Creator from his work return’d
Magnificent, his six days’ work, a world”
Yes, a magnificent work indeed. But God cannot be examined through microscopes or telescopes. He is spiritual. Jesus came to let us know who God really is. Even scientific minds marvel at his creation, but only Jesus could let us know how much God loves us.
Sep-Nov 2010 Christian Odyssey