The Beauty of Nothing
As we arrived at our cabin last summer, the weather report predicted several rainy days. That was good news for me. I just wanted to sit, to be, to do nothing! Nothing seemed good.
The account of creation recorded in Genesis reports,
In the beginning God created . . . .
The earth was formless and empty . . . .
And the Spirit of God was hovering . . . .
(Genesis 1:1,2 NLT)
The earth was empty, there was nothing! And God was hovering. Hovering. Don’t you sense the expectation? Something is about to happen.
God is present; God is hovering over the nothingness: the perfect setup to display His creating, transforming powers. He goes to work.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
(Genesis 1:31 NLT, emphasis mine)
Nothing transformed into something very good!
At a wedding Jesus performs his first public miracle, turning pots filled with water into the finest wine (John 2:1-12). Those pots, which at first had nothing in them, were poised for Jesus to demonstrate his creating, transforming, very good power.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV)
As believers, we’re described as ordinary clay jars filled with treasure, God’s all-surpassing power. But I can only be filled if I come to God empty, with nothing.
Nothing is sometimes a good choice. It invites God to hover, to fill me with His wisdom, His goodness, and His love. As the old hymn Rock of Ages proclaims, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”
May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:11 NLT, emphasis mine)
So I come to my devotional times with nothing, anticipating God hovering, ready to fill me. This wasn’t always my practice. Once my time with God looked more like a checklist. Have I read my Bible? Have I thought about how I might apply what I’ve read today? Have I reviewed that verse I’m trying so hard to memorize? Have I prayed? Have I done it all? Is God pleased?
My time with God didn’t look like a relationship; it was more like doing what I’m supposed to do. After all, I’m a Christian. Thankfully, that way of being with God has morphed over the years into relating.
If you could see our deck on a beautiful Colorado morning, you’d see me too. Sitting with my coffee, the view, the Colorado sky, the trees, the birds who visit. Yes, my cell phone too—on silent—ready to capture the God-created beauty surrounding me. Quiet is defined by the breeze through the trees, the chatter of the birds, and an occasional plane overhead. I listen. It is good.
I start my morning experiencing the holiness of nothing. Or is it something? I’m starting my morning anticipating the voice of God. He is hovering, waiting for my ear.
Adapted from Sue Tell’s blog Echoes of Grace, October 1, 2020.
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1955), loc. 1451, Kindle.