Day 1

Day 1 – t

This month I’m going to be pulling from my notes that I took while attending the Summer Institute of Recovery Studies.  The content was so great and I thought some messages in particular would be helpful from a devotional perspective.  Enjoy!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 RSV

Dale Ryan taught from this passage and I want to walk through his major teaching points.  And of course, add a few of my own.  But the really good stuff?  That’s Dale!  For those of you who don’t know him, Dale is an Associate Professor of Recovery Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary and Director of the Fuller Institute for Recovery Ministry (  He is one of the founders of the National Association for Christian Recovery and serves on its Board of Directors, is almost single-handedly responsible for the NACR website ( and is my hero (a distinction I have to stand in a long line to claim because he has impacted so many of us with this tenacious commitment to recovery in the church).


If you ask the average person what’s in the first chapter of Genesis, assuming they’re Christian and have read parts of the bible, most people remember it is the story of creation.  This is much easier to remember than say, what’s up in 2 Chronicles 19?  (Jehoshaphat appoints judges.)  Even when I was barely a believer I knew that there was a creation account in the first chapters of the book of the bible! For those who have tried to read the bible, most of us start at the beginning, which pretty much assures that we’ve read the first chapter.  (I will not ask how many have made it to Zephaniah.)


So it’s pretty shocking (at least to me) to discover that there’s a verse, the second one in fact, that I’ve never paid much attention to.  “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.”

As Dale mentioned, not many pastors preach on the dark, formless void.  But how many of us have lived it?  It turns out that in the beginning, before everything, God was moving, hovering over the waters.  Honestly, I had never given much thought to this hovering.  It is so much more appealing to rush right through and read about the creative acts – light and dark, water and land.  Adam and Eve. This second verse is shocking.  Disorienting.  It sounds messy.  And unfinished.  And there’s nothing in this verse that sounds like God’s got it all together, either.  Where’s the magic wand?  Obviously, there isn’t one.


For today, sit with this image and see what it reminds you of in your own life.  Get curious and ask yourself some questions about the formless, void and dark aspects of your life WITHOUT rushing to the God stuff just yet!  How do you feel about the mess?  What do you think about the chaos in your life?  Where does it fit with your understanding of faith?

To be continued…


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