In 1888 poet William Ernest Henley published what would be his most famous work, “Invictus,” which ends with this famous line: “It matters not how strait the gate, / How charged with punishments the scroll, / I am the master of my fate, / I am the captain of my soul.” This quote has resonated with generations of readers and has been quoted by heads of state, including most notably the late Nelson Mandela. But beyond the acclaim, we need to ask ourselves a crucial question, “Is Henley’s poem true for me?” If God created all things, we owe our essence and being to Him. God’s identity as Creator means He is the Master of our souls.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day. – Genesis 1:1-5, CSB
Genesis makes sure every reader knows that God—not a series of myths or some impersonal combination of circumstances—is in charge. The more we learn about science, the more evidence there is for a supreme transcendent Creator. Of the 200 parameters needed to be in place for a planet to sustain life, only the earth has been proven to contain them. The special Hebrew word for “created” is only used in the Bible when God makes something, or does something not done before. Genesis describes the earth as formless and void before God created anything; before God exerted His authority, the earth was a wasteland.
Only God can create out of nothing. As His image bearers, we create and bring order to chaos, but we have a starting point. God does not. All of who God is brought about the world. The Father initiates. The Son—the spoken Word of God—brings everything into being (see John 1:1-3). The Spirit transforms chaos with His hovering. This is the primary way the Old Testament saints thought about God; yet in a scientific age, we have lost our wonder at this astonishing truth. God took nothing, named it, and released it to fulfill the good purposes that He had for it. This is who our God is. This is His design.
God sees the potential in human lives, and He has the power to bring good into those lives. God doesn’t just work with mud or atoms or planets. God works with lives and moments and years. He has the foresight to see what a person or group of believers can become. He has the power to bring order out of chaos, giving purpose and meaning to life. Most important, God does good work. We are the pinnacle of God’s creative work, and the pinnacle of creation reflects a complementary purpose throughout all of creation.
This was an excerpt from Léonce Crump’s sermon series and small group study, Beautiful by Design. Sessions 1 & 2. Series and study are available exclusively at smallgroup.com.