And the Earth was without form and void . . . – Genesis 1:2
Three years and four months ago, God gave me an Isaiah 6-like experience. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that He was preparing me to preach His Word. I have asked ever since then for understanding of why He would place such a mantle on my life. I think I now know, and I believe the words I am about to write can help all believers who take the time to read this.
When I first started preaching, it was out of a pure heart with pure motives. I didn’t know a tenth of what I know now, but I knew God could convict and change hearts. I would walk through these open doors where people would asked me to preach and basically teach what I’ve heard others preach. I didn’t really know how to let the Bible be the middleman for all of my preaching material, so I used the material of others. I preached a lot of stuff that I would never preach now.
As I learned to study the Bible, God would blow me away with some of the stuff I saw in His word. I would then try to figure out ways to spin it all into a sermon that would blow others away when I preached it. For the most part, I got an excellent response every time that I preached. This sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it was, with one exception. I began to like man’s praise. In fact, it became my measuring stick for how well I did. If I didn’t get patted on the back with a “really good word, Adam, God will make you a great preacher one day,” I thought I had failed.
Anyway, one day, I thought about John the Baptist’s words, “I must decrease, and He must increase.” (John 3:30) John had a mega-church going. People came from miles around to hear his message. Nobody was preaching like the wild man in the wilderness wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts dipped in wild honey. Then, one day, Jesus came, and John turned all the attention over to Him. He still had his ministry, but it greatly diminished.
Before my Isaiah 6-like experience, had God made me a preacher, I would have joined the mega race. I would have done whatever it took to be the biggest, to have the best, and basically make sure everything we did was top notch in the world’s eyes. After my experience, I didn’t care if I was ever put out front again. I just wanted to live my life being as close to the King of King’s and Lord of Lord’s as was humanly possible.
Hence, Genesis 1:2. Twenty-two years after becoming a Christian, I finally got it (I’m kind of slow). Up until that point, I didn’t mind living for the Name of Jesus as long as my name was famous along side of His. I didn’t mind giving Him glory, so long as I got a little taste of it as well. The age-old sin of pride still flowed through my veins. But on that day, I became formless and void. This may sound like a bad place to be, but there is actually no place better.
When you lay down all your pride and all your ambition. When you lay down all your wants and desires. When you come to a place where you want only Jesus, and not Jesus and anything else, at that point you have become formless and void. You finally become a canvas on which God can paint. In the creation story, the Earth was formed, and then the Earth was filled. Would to God that every individual, especially the ones who claim Christianity, would go through the same process.
Lord, the sin and pride that lives within us is always looking to take control. We think we know better than You and admit that You are way too often our last resort. Even then, we only come to You because all of our options are gone and our plans didn’t work. Make us formless and void. Help us to realize the futility of trying to build out of our own effort. Help us to empty ourselves of pride and that need to really be somebody in this world. Show us what abundant life really looks like and remove the American version from our hearts. Create in us a clean heart that can receive as much of You as humanly possible. Renew in us a right spirit that only wants what You want and desires only that which You desire. You see the end from the beginning and there is no one like You.