I’ve always been a very imaginative person. I love imagining and visualizing things that were before my time. As a kid, I often used to imagine what it was like in the beginning. Wait, scratch that. I used to try and imagine what it was like before the beginning – before technology, before Jesus, before the dinosaurs, before humankind walked the earth, before the universe even existed. I would close my eyes and try so hard to visualize what that looked like. It always felt like watching a movie in fast-rewind. Every time I did that as a kid, I would see this genie-like thing (my version of God’s Spirit!) floating around in vast nothingness. It was always dark and empty in my imagination every time I thought of “life” before Genesis 1.
The other day, when I woke up, I felt like a kid again and found myself trying to imagine and visualize the very same scenario – what it was life before the beginning. As usual, it was dark and empty and I pictured the genie-like thing floating around in vast nothingness. But this time, it didn’t end there. I started to question my imagination because it was so contrary to what the Bible says about God.
God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.1 John 1:5
Wait, what?! If God is LIGHT, then maybe before it all began, there was light!
But if that is the case, some of the stuff we read in Genesis 1 just does not add up. For example:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.Genesis 1:1-3
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
So here are some contradictions I find from the above verses:
- If God is light, why did He have to speak for there to be light? Why did God have to create light?
- There was darkness while the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. If the Spirit of God, (that is, one part of the Triune God) who is Light according to 1 John 1:5, was present in this scene, how did darkness find a way to creep in? Shouldn’t light expel darkness?
The moment I wrote these questions down, the good Christian in me wanted to rebuke and shut these thoughts out and just believe that this was the story and there was no explanation for these things. But the child in me knew she could ask her Father ANYTHING and He would make it plain to her. So I prayed, with a heart full of doubt and wonder and God started to unravel the mysteries of His Word to me!
I’m going to try and explain, as best as I can, what I learned about these “contradictions” (why the quotes? Because they are no longer contradictions to me!). So here goes.
The light that God created, in the beginning, was physical light which we see with our physical eyes. If we shut our eyes, we’re not going to see this light. This light that God spoke into existence is not the same light that He is. He is the Light of the world!
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”John 8:12
God Himself is the Light. But because He is not a dictator who sits on a throne giving out orders, we have the choice to accept or reject this Light. The Bible says that there is no darkness IN Him. The Bible also says in Colossians 3:3 that we are hidden IN Christ. So as long as we choose to remain IN Him, we won’t experience darkness, EVER! So what He spoke into existence was for us to see things in the physical realm with our physical eyes, but He is the Light that we need, to see things in the spiritual realm. Without Him, it’s dark, and we won’t be able to see, conceive, perceive or understand any of this. That’s why we all need HIM first – the Light that leads to life!
So the physical earth was empty and void and dark (much like my imagination!) even with the Spirit of God hovering over it, and that is why He created light, and day and night and land and water and creepy crawlies like spiders (which honestly, I don’t get!) and animals and plants and trees and US! This was His design.
I had another thought while I was trying to make sense of all this. If God is all-sufficient, why did He create us? What was the need to design and MAKE us in His own image?
I believe He did it not because He wasn’t enough, but because He is more than enough and He wanted to extend His goodness to us! I think that He is the very definition of Heaven and because He is so good, He decided to CREATE a species called human beings so we could enjoy the same goodness that He is. Why go through all that trouble?! I believe His reason was so He could share with us what He experiences every moment. He is SO good and is filled with goodness, that He felt He needed to make something out of nothing to display who He is and so we could have a relationship with this good, Triune God. It is purely because of His mercy and grace that we even exist today. This is what the Bible says in Ephesians:
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.Ephesians 1:4-5
We were not just His design, but we are His desire. He takes great pleasure in the fact that we belong to Him. He created us for His joy. We are hidden in the Light to enjoy the Light! If that doesn’t speak of His goodness, I don’t know what does!
Before I end this, I want to talk about my imagination again for a second. If there is a God, and if this God is anything like the God that Jesus shows us, then our imaginations need an adjustment. At the beginning of all things, there was Light. This Light welcomes, embraces and accepts us. This is the God of Genesis – powerful, yet personal! Remember my imagination of Him as a genie-like thing? Well, He is beyond that. He is not mere energy, not an “it” or a “thing,” but a Being – and He is the source of all being. This Light that I have been trying to describe with my limited vocabulary is alive and is the Personal Power behind all life.
If this imaginary time-travel really happened, I’m sure my “before the beginning” scenario would look a lot different than I have envisioned it all my life. Yes, I’d see light, and yes, I’d feel loved – but I would also hear something. Conversation! Expressions of joy and delight! I’d know that the love I experience is not simply between me and God, but within God. God was and always is relating to Himself within Himself. This is the God who spoke to Himself in the plural when He said, “Let us make man in our own image.” God is not only personal, which makes Him capable of relationship with another, but God is also communal, which means He is constantly relating within Himself as the Triune God. God is always relating, expressing and experiencing love, because God IS love (1 John 4:8, 16)!
This is the God who was with Jesus and was Jesus (John 1:1), the same yet distinct! This is the God who is so foundationally relational that once He creates us, His identity and story are forever linked with ours. For He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and me – and you!
So, what do I see now when I close my eyes and envision the beginning? I see Light!