Creatio Ex Nihilio
Life is full of closed doors, inaccessible enclaves and impossible odds. Successfully scale one mountain, and while you’re congratulating yourself on a hard-won achievement, another arises immediately. It’s never really over. ‘No’, ‘not yet’, ‘wait’, ‘pay the price’; these are the unspoken gatekeepers of the kingdoms of this world. The ebullient, boundless dreams of youth blight and wither under daily blasts of negativity. There’s no end to the naysayers thumping on you, about why something can’t be done, shouldn’t be expected…how high the cost is; why you don’t deserve it. No matter how gifted or intelligent you are, how large the advantage you started from, or how favorable the network you climb, status keepers are not going to let you grab the brass ring without insisting you give proper homage to the powers that be. Ignorance is bliss, but accomplishment learns to pay the price.
One of the choice aspects in living a life of faith, are the prime moments when the Lord steps into the equation and levels the cobwebby constructions of men. Whether it’s the answer to a sustained prayer, or a totally supreme providence, these divine interventions are the lightning flashes of indisputable grace. They are electric, spectacular, and so, so precious. Interwoven with the dark, coarse skeins of every day, glittery golden threads of God’s direct sovereignty in the tapestry of life may nevertheless be found. We treasure these extraordinary signs of His favor. They are priceless gems we roll them around in our memory when difficulty is upon us, affirming that our hopes, dreams, and prayers are not going out into the great airless vacuum of a spiritual void. We know that we know, and here’s the proof; the Lord is vigilant and active on our behalf, and He answered us.
Abraham, the paragon of faith, experienced one of these matchless moments. After an agonizingly protracted season, against all odds, Sarah conceived, and bore Isaac. This miracle completely defied natural laws and human expectations. In the fourth chapter of Romans, while referencing this era in the life of the Patriarch, Paul describes the Lord in an unprecedented way. He says “…before him whom he (Abraham) believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were. Romans 4:17
Here in this scripture, the Lord is called (in the Latin) ‘Creatio Ex Nihilio’. It literally means ‘the One who creates out of nothing’. This title showcases a characteristic exclusive to the Lord alone; His ability to speak, and coalesce substance into being. We see this title in action in Genesis imagery; His irresistibly dramatic entrance into the annals of men. There, He brooded over the void and chaos, considering it, then, spoke light to slice up the darkness. But that was just the initial foray. Creatio Ex Nihilio was just warming up. No less than eight times, ‘God said…’ and it was done. An entire universe founded on His word.
There are junctures in our lives so dense with chaos and upheaval that we learn new levels of hopeless desperation. We’re somewhere we’ve never seen before; a mental and spiritual cul-de-sac for which there is absolutely no precedent or directive. Life can be unspeakably grim, when no one can be trusted and the heavens seem as brass. We’ve hit the wall, and we’re going down. Believers learn not to be incredulous at, and in, these seasons. They learn a revelation of Creatio Ex Nihilio. It’s a lesson of trusting confidence and childlike expectancy.
Time after time, where absolutely no answers or provisions are in evidence, when all seems lost, light shatters the gloom. Creatio speaks over us, and the needed provisions suddenly appear, the situation morphs unexpectedly, or a certain disaster is adverted. All of this happens, out of absolutely nowhere. There was not a hint of help or possibility on the horizon, and certainly not from the direction it finally came from. It’s a gift of grace so profound, there can be only one source. When Creatio manifests, it’s so consummate, it confounds the pundits and silences the peanut gallery. The haters, critics and scorners have absolutely no reply to an act of mercy so profound it defies all logic. Even ‘luck’ doesn’t fit the answer. I’ve seen results so spectacular, no explanation is possible. The solutions of God are simply too out-sized for words, and when you try to capture their majesty, you sound like a raving fool.
The Lord is identified by many names in Scripture, but Creatio Ex Nihilio is one of my personal favorites. Perhaps it’s because “He speaks into the Void”. ‘Void’ is defined as ‘empty space, a vast nothingness, to be destitute, deprived, invalid, lost, useless, vain, or vacated’. It’s a perfect expression of negation. Something that should be present, but isn’t. Something that should have happened, but didn’t. I’ve seen a surfeit of voids in my life, which is probably why I’ve had some real revelation on the subject. What is your ‘void’? Where is the location of your need, your damage, trauma, poverty, or privation? What have you forfeited or been denied? Where do you feel hopeless? Do you have the courage to admit it, and call on the name of the Lord?
Psalm 91 expresses the great, overshadowing presence of God in the life of a saint. There are a boat-load of promises to be found there, but I’m honing in on this one:
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. Psalm 91:14-15
I know you, Creatio Ex Nihilio! I’ve seen you work, time and time again, in the dark corners of impossible conundrums. Nothing can best your dramatic entrance and sweeping changes. Here I am, I’m calling on your name, I’m anticipating your deliverances. I’m waiting for your promotions. I'm standing joyfully on the ground of ridiculous expectation, as big as you are. We've been here before, Big Guy, and we will be again. Thank-you Lord!