Chapter One: The Opposites in Creation

Chapter One:  The Beginning of Opposites

             As we begin to examine not only the existence of opposites within our world but more specifically, more purposefully, their affect upon us, the best place to start is not just at the beginning, but in the beginning.

‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  And God saw the light, that is was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.’      (Genesis 1:1-4)

 When God set about creating our amazingly complex universe, we learn that everything He made could be described in two ways:  by what it was and by what it was not.  In other words, God created opposites.  God created all things from no things; the earth was formless and void, until God spoke.  Then, it took shape and had substance.  Darkness stretched out as far as the eye could not see…until God brought forth light and gave it its own realm.  The waters covered the land, until God pulled them back and set their boundaries. On every day, God created and separated…and He saw that it was good.

Just four verses into Scripture, we read of God creating the light and separating it from the darkness.  What is darkness?  The absence of light.  What is light?   The absence of darkness.  When each is looked at separately, its opposite must be laid beside it in order for its meaning to emerge.  How would we know light without experiencing the engulfing abyss of darkness?  And what would darkness be without the presence of light that, once withheld, revealed it?

As God continued His account of Creation, we learn more about the Law of Opposites that He set into motion.  On day two, God separated the waters above from the waters below (giving us our layered atmosphere), and on day three, He pulled back the waters below to reveal dry earth.  Beaches and bays; coasts and crests; sands and seas.  While they lie side by side, their characteristics are polar opposites.  One is formed in the absence of land while the other emerges from the absence of water, and both contain their own unique inhabitants.

Day four finds God lighting up the sky with the sun, moon, and stars through which He established the counterparts of day and night, the increments of months and years, and the seasonal opposites of spring and fall, of summer and winter.  On day five, He created the wildlife that skirts across the heavenlies or scuttles beneath the waters.  From birds that fly to fish that swim, each inhabiting its own terrain and each inhibited by its own traits.  Then, on day six, a final creation came forth that was the epitome of opposites.  From one, came two; though two, they became one.  This creation would be God’s greatest because into it He would impart His own breath, giving not only physical life but spiritual life as well.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  (Gen. 1:27)

 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”   (Gen. 2:21-22)

On day six, God created Adam and Eve.  They were made for one another to complete one another.  From Adam’s side, Eve was formed, and from then on, she was to dwell in that place from which she had come…her husband’s side.  While God could have used any bone…or no bone…to create Eve, He did so with a rib, and the imagery is palpable.

Ribs, whose role is to protect the lungs; ribs, whose placement is on the side of the body; it’s from the ribs that God created woman.  From a rib, that man may be her protector; from his side, that she might walk beside him; from his flesh, that when together, the two may complete each other.  And, though designed to be together and directed to cleave to one another, each is the other’s opposite.

Man is created to lead the woman; to love the woman; to nurture the woman (Eph. 5:23, 25-26).   Woman is created to follow the man; to respect the man; to help the man (Eph. 5:22, 24,33).  The role of each plays off of, and into, the role of the other so that…when done according to God’s design…the man and the woman, from their place of contrast, complete each other.  And, though seemingly different in every way, from their place of divergence, this truth would be emerge:  opposites attract.  And so they do, and so they should, because in such a fashion God created them and in such a manner He reveals them.

So, there we have the manifestation of the Law of Opposites.  From the very beginning, in fact, in the beginning, God separated the light from the dark…the known from the unknown…the evident from the invisible…the Creator from the creations.  From the pulling back of the waters to the establishing of dry land, from the scattering of sunbeams to the sprinkling of moon beams, from the soaring of eagles to the swimming of eels, and from the galloping of the antelope to the grazing of the zebra.  And then, and then…God created mankind.  Male and female He created them; as opposites He created them; that each would be seen more clearly not in spite of, but in light of, their contrast.

light and dark

Picture Perfect Praise

Picture Perfect Praise

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which                           You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him,                                                   And the son of man that You visit him?      -Psalm 8:3-4

Today, as I write this, I am nestled among the flowers in my backyard.  To my right, white narcissus are blooming and to my left, purple irises are straining to outshine their stately neighbors.  I brought a chair out here and placed it right in the midst of these flowers because I have had a suspicion about something for the past couple weeks and thought it was time to test this suspicion.  To do that, I needed to be as close to nature as possible.  (Granted, I would have been closer to nature if I’d been closer to the ground…as in sitting on it, but I’m not testing the strength of my laundry detergent, so the chair came out and my behind stayed up!)

My first inkling of what I wanted to test occurred about a week ago when I went out on the deck and did a little star gazing.  It was a cloudless night and the brilliance of the stars both pulled me in and knocked me down.  You know the feeling; the, “Wow, I had forgotten how beautiful the night sky is!” sensation.  It was both exhilarating and embarrassing.   How had I forgotten such beauty?  It’s not like I hadn’t seen it before, though it had been awhile.  Why had it been so long since I’d sought it out?  And, while I looked and wondered not so much at the stars, but at the One who created them, I didn’t want to go back inside.  There is something about viewing God’s creation that reminds me of His glory and, almost simultaneously, elicits praise.  I couldn’t help but think what a shame it was to live under a roof that covered up such grandeur!  What a travesty to have something so timeless and awesome so accessible and then to cap it off with something as temporary and ordinary as wood and shingles.  And then it hit me…I live under a lid.  I walk about ever so close to God’s glory while remaining light-years away from it.  I, a finite, fragile, foolish creature, cap off the glory of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.  Uh-oh.  This was deep.  I had to go to bed and let this thought percolate.

So, today, the percolation process continues as I sit outside, in a chair, among the flowers.  I often look at my flowers through the windows and, from time to time, I walk along the edge of the yard and admire them from a closer proximity, but today I was right beside them.  From this vantage point, I notice more than purple and white petals with green stalks.  Now, up close, I can see the shading of colors on the petals, the thickness of the stalks, the old blossoms and the new buds, and even the insects that have been delighting far more than me in the livelihood of these flowers.  And, as I sit here, I not only see their beauty more clearly but I also appreciate their Creator more fully.  With every shading of color, I am reminded that God attends to details; with every scent, I am reminded that God enjoys aromas; with every insect coming and going, I am reminded that everything has a purpose.   And so, with this insight, the testing was complete and the results were conclusive; when uncapped, when un-lidded, when un-separated from creation, I am more enamored by God’s handiwork and more inclined to sing His praises.  That’s just what I had suspected:  to be close to God’s work is to be close to His glory; to be close to His glory is to delight in His splendor; to delight in His splendor is to praise His name.  In order to draw closer to God, close enough to have praises falling from my lips, I must first move out from under my lid.  I must stop looking at God as through a window or from under a roof; I must uncap my mind…I must unmask my eyes.

In C. S.  Lewis’ book, Reflections on the Psalms, he writes about man’s need to offer praise.  Lewis says, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. “  He goes on to explain it is through our praising of that which we admire that we actually delight even more in the object we are praising.  Lewis goes on to say, “The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be; man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever’.  In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” That makes perfect sense and it is easier to comprehend when sitting under a sky filled with stars or beside a bed of blooming flowers; wherever God’s handiwork is displayed, and enjoyed, His glory is revealed and He is praised.

Another author, John Maxwell, writes about “The Law of the Lid” in his book on leadership titled, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  The point Maxwell makes is that we all have limits placed upon us which he refers to as lids.  To lift our lid, two qualities must be developed: dedication and ability.  When we increase our dedication and our ability, the result is that we become more effective.  Now, while John Maxwell uses this principle to explain how to become a more effective leader, since it is a principle it can be applied to other areas as well…say to our dedication to God and our ability to praise Him.  If we follow Maxwell’s projection, an increase in our dedication will broaden our relationship with God but it won’t deepen it; that will only happen if we also increase our ability to praise Him.  And, if we can increase both the areas of dedication and ability, we will become more effective…more influential…more (dare we?) Christ-like.   We will throw off the lids that prevent us from seeing God’s handiwork and we will pop the tops that hold in our praises.  We will praise the God of creation as we enjoy the creation of God.

I think Satan knows this.  I think he is in the business of lid-making.  I think he delights in keeping our eyes masked and our views roofed.  After all, how do you undo God’s glory?  You can’t, so you try to cover it up…to cap it off…to use time and space to put distance between revealed glory and concealed glory.  And, because of his dedication and ability to deceive, he proves to be quite an effective lid-maker.  As a result, we pass through this world…a canvas of God’s glory…failing to see, failing to delight, and therefore failing to praise.  Not a bad plan, for one who can’t create a star, but can block it with a roof; for one who can’t fashion a flower, but can keep it on the other side of a window.

So, how do we denounce Satan’s lids, defer to Maxwell’s principle, and delineate Lewis’ views on praise?  We accomplish all three by stepping out from under that which separates us from God’s glory.   Where do you feel closest to God?  Where are you awed by His greatness, by His creativity?  What makes your heart sing and, as a result, praise God?  That’s where you go…that’s what you do.  It may take you outside on a starry night or it may have you sit among the flowers.  It might take you to a planetarium or to a zoo.  It could take you to a symphony or to an opera. (Umm…I’m not so sure about the opera scenario, but I do want you to think I am refined and might possibly, if threatened, attend an opera.  After all, I did drag a chair to the woods to sit in…that shows refinement, doesn’t it?)  The point is, God has created beauty all around us and when we come out from under our lids and see it, we see Him; and when we see Him, we praise Him; and when we praise Him, we enjoy Him.  And therein is life in its finest and fullest; therein is where our dedication to seek God and our ability to praise Him not only raise our lids, but remove them altogether.