By Joel Iyorwa
“And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8 (ASV)
Until God forms a man, He does not (in fact He cannot) use him. God does nothing haphazardly; He is purposeful and strategic in all His ways. It is not just a mere linguistic play on words that in chapter one God is said to have ‘created’ the man (Gen 1:27) while here, for the second time in this chapter God is said to have ‘formed’ the man in a clear contrast to the ‘creation’ of this same man in chapter one (Gen 2:8).
We need to take note of the fact that the Bible is not talking about two different men here but one. It was the very man created by God who was also formed by the same God. These are two distinctive, mutually-exclusive and unique processes God has since that beginning in Eden sought to bring His choice men through.
Creation always comes first, while formation usually follows. But the movement from a created being to a formed being doesn’t happen automatically, it is not a default system that every man God creates He also goes on to form, even though that is His desire. In fact, there are many ‘men’ today who have been stuck and fixated at the level of creation. At that level of creation, a man’s value to God is very small. It is only when God has formed a man that He can trust him and en-trust the man with something precious to his heart. It is only when God has succeeded in forming a man that He puts him in the pre-prepared garden. But the desire in the heart of God has always been to move us from the superficial, ordinary existence of being creatures to the league of those He has successfully formed, then and only then would we be useful and usable men in His estate.
Creation is the entry-level process. It is basic and has a very common place. Everyone born into the world exists on this level in the physical sense. Being born-again takes a man one step away as a spiritually created being, he is merely a new creature in Christ. Being a believer is not synonymous with being formed by the Lord. It is by an often lengthy, sometimes rough process of discipleship, shaping, sharpening, trying, pruning, moulding and remoulding, that the Lord brings His people from a state of mere Created beings to formed vessels in his hands. Being born again in itself is not an end but the beginning of a journey, of a process of formation. “…if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Co 5:17). That is why becoming born again is not in itself a ticket to becoming a vessel in the hands of God. At this level of creation, even spiritual gifts will have very little meaning and impact.
Formation on the other hand is a state of spiritual experience in which God conforms a man to the image of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t happen at the point of conversion, it doesn’t happen overnight. However God would always initiate the process of formation with every man He has created. It is God that initiates this process because He is anxious to take us to the next level. It is when a created man has successfully made the transition to becoming formed by God and in God’s hand that He can experience a full release into His work.
This is a lesson every man that has the desire to be used by God, to be relevant in His work, to affect their generation must learn and take seriously. That man must move from creation to formation, from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2. By the time Moses appeared on the scene in Exodus 2:14, he was a mere created being. He was groomed by Pharaoh but unformed by the Lord. One random man asked him: “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” That was the question that chased him into the arms of God for 40 years of molding and forming. We must realize that God is never desperate and in a hurry to use us.
It must take however long it must take. For “God will probably do more IN us than THROUGH us. The story was drastically different for Moses when he showed up again in Egypt 40 years later. Dear Christian friend, at what point are you with the forming hand of God? Have you been co-operating with Him, even when some of the methods seem unpalatable? Our response to His forming us is what makes it long for some and short for others, successful sometimes and a failure at other times. Have you recognized this process yet in your Christian walk with the Lord?