Read Psalm 8:3-9
Last weekend, I did an early morning slot during our church’s 24-hour prayer event using details about the universe as a springboard for our prayers, prayers that focused on the awesomeness of God. I thought I would use the same details in this week’s blog as there were probably only a handful of people watching at that un-earthly (get it?) time and I didn’t want you to miss these incredible facts.
The idea for my prayer slot came after I went out the week before to see the Perseid meteor shower, which can be seen from mid-July to the end of August. These meteors come from a comet called Swift Tuttle and a stream of debris stretches along its orbit. When this debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere at speed we see shooting stars.
So, I was lying in the middle of a field, in the middle of no where, as far away from city light pollution as I could get, from about midnight to nearly 2am. In the clear night sky I could see a plethora of stars, the planets Jupiter and Saturn, orbiting satellites and, well a whole 4 meteors! Admittedly, this was at the beginning of the meteor event and the peak isn’t until mid August so I will try again.
I was not disheartened though as lying there, looking at our little corner of the universe was awe inspiring. I recommend you to go out and look up into night sky during a clear night and marvel at God’s creation: the universe He spoke into being. It’s an incredible experience staring into the vastness of space.
From each hemisphere of our planet there are 4500 visible stars so 9000 stars in total can be seen from Earth. That doesn’t sound so many I guess, but in the whole universe there are estimated to be 700 billion trillion stars. One of the biggest known stars, VY Canis Majoris, could fit 9.3 billion of our suns into it. The closest star to us, Proxima Centauri, is 40 trillion kilometres away, which would take 60 thousand years for our fastest space probe to travel to. That’s just the distance from Earth to one star, think about the distances between all the other billions of stars. Space is big!
When you lie under the stars you can’t really appreciate the enormity of that expanse, but you do get a sense of your seeming insignificance under the star-flecked canopy. I say seeming insignificance because, even though we are infinitesimally small, we are significant enough for God to create us. Not just create us, but create us for a purpose and send His son to die for us so that we can have a relationship with Him. He loves us beyond all notion of love; tiny us, amongst the vastness of space.
Within the small area of space I was staring at, I saw more satellites than meteors. Humans have built this technology that can orbit the earth, sending and receiving signals, zooming around our planet at over 17 thousand miles an hour. God gave us the capability to be engineers and inventors, made us in his image as creators, gave us brains to think and hands to build. We have so much technology now, which may not always be a good thing, but much of it can still be used to glorify God. Within church, we use live-stream to beam God’s Word into homes in an instant, we have smart phones and laptops to listen to that Word, Bibles on apps, daily studies online, lights to see what we’re reading, electronic instruments to praise Him. The list of technological advancements that help spread the Gospel in some way is extensive and the orbiting satellites were a reminder to me of all that God has enabled us to do.
So, we can see space from Earth, but we are unable to see our own planet in it’s entirety (that blue orb spinning in space) without the aid of space travel. Even so, imagine you have travelled far enough away from earth to look back and see our cloud swirled planet with it’s continents and seas; half in light, half in darkness; bright blue within the inkiness of the void around it.
For life to be sustainable on this planet, so many things had to be ideal: temperatures, gases, water formation, mineral presence. I am not smart enough to understand all the factors that had to be in place for life to exist, but I know that the list is very long and the chances of them all being perfect without divine activity are less than 1 chance in 10 to the power of 282(that’s 1 in a million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion). God did that. Created a planet that perfectly suited us: exactly the right distance from our sun with exactly the right gravity, atmosphere and weather conditions. He created this planet purposefully for a people he created with purpose. Wow!
I’m reminded of a line from Graham Kendrick’s ‘The Servant King’: Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered. The God who created the universe you have just read about, came down to earth as a man to die on a cross so that we may know Him personally. Picture those hands summoning the stars into existence and then those same hands pierced for your salvation.
Think about that the next time you look up at the stars. Marvel at the wonder of God’s creation. Marvel at His love for you and thank Him for His sacrifice.