DayBreaks for 12/9/19 – When I Survey the Heavens

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DayBreaks for 12/09/19: When I Survey the Heavens

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God’s] dominion over the earth?” – Job 38:31-33 (NIV)

I suspect that we don’t contemplate the greatness of God nearly enough.  Of course, it is difficult to do so.  When we think of great things, we might think of an aircraft carrier, Mount Everest, the immense Pacific Ocean and the like.  We tend to think of greatness many times in relation to size.  The bigger it is, the greater it seems to be.  And, since none of us really have seen God, we don’t know how big He is.  He may be the same size as a human, smaller, bigger, or big enough that He fills all space.  He probably can change sizes if it suits His purpose.  But God isn’t impressed with size, is He?

Well, no, He’s not.  He’s not impressed with size or the amount of skill a human has or the size of someone’s bank account. He does, however, seem to want us to be impressed with His greatness (as we should be anyway!)  The problem is this: since no one can see Him and live, how can He demonstrate His greatness to us in ways we can even begin to comprehend?  Of course, there’s what happened in the Incarnation and the life of Jesus that tells us about God’s character (mercy, love, grace, forgiveness, humility, etc.).  Those are things that we must be impressed by if nothing else.  But He also points us to the heavens – to something visible – that we can literally see and then we can stand back in awe. 

Bill Bryson did a great job in his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, to begin to help us grasp the size of one part of God’s creation: space.  Let’s let him educate is for the purposes of understanding God’s greatness as witnessed by this one part of His creation:

The universe that we know and talk about (which by the way is probably not all there is since we can’t see the end of the universe, is 1 million million million million (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) miles across.  According to at least one astronomer, the size of the meta-universe (the superset of the universe we can presently see and know) most likely isn’t written with “10 zeroes, not even with a hundred, but with millions.” 

Those numbers are so large that we can’t even begin to embrace their meaning.  So, let’s settle down to just our solar system.  Our solar system is most likely the liveliest thing for trillions of miles, but all the visible stuff in our solar system (sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc.) fills less than 1 trillionth of the space available in the solar system.  Remember those maps of the solar system you saw in school?  I hate to tell you this, but they’re all wrong – exceedingly wrong.  But in order to be able to show them so we could learn the names of the 9 planets (I know, Pluto is not considered a planet anymore, but I’m old school!), they put them all on one piece of paper.  If you were to draw the diagram of the solar system to scale with earth at the size of a pea, the planet Jupiter would be over 1000 feet away from earth and little cold Pluto would be 1.5 miles from earth (and about the size of a bacterium so you wouldn’t be able to see it at all).  Our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would be nearly 10,000 miles away.  Even if everything was shrunk down so that Jupiter was as small as the period at the end of this sentence and Pluto was no bigger than a molecule, Pluto would still be 35 feet away. 

 

Proxima Centauri is 100,000,000 times farther from earth than the moon.  To make the trip by modern spaceship would require 25,000 years, and once you got there, you’d still be in the middle of nowhere.  It has been estimated that the average distance between stars that are visible is 20 million, million miles.  Anyone up for a hike?

Is it any wonder that when God wanted Job to understand His greatness He referred Job to the heavens: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. – Psalms 19:1-5 (NIV)

In this season of wonder regarding the Incarnation of Jesus, let’s not lose sight of this aspect of wonder, too!

PRAYER: May we ponder Your greatness and give You alone the praise of our hearts!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/29/17 – Stars and Fear

Multiwavelength Crab Nebula

DayBreaks for 9/29/17: Stars and Fear

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love the mountains.  I love the ocean.  I love the forests.  I love redwoods.  But there isn’t much of anything, not even the Pacific Ocean, that makes me gasp in wonder as much as staring up thoughtfully at the night sky.  The vastness, the coldness of space plays tricks with my frail human mind.  I can’t even begin to grasp it.  When I stand on the beach at the edge of the Pacific, I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste and smell it in the air.  But I can’t do that with space.  As vast as the Pacific is, I can get some sense of its size by flying over it for hours on end.  Try that with the universe. 

It’s really strange – the stars don’t go away in the daytime, you know.  It’s just that because of the brightness of the sun, we can’t see them.  They’re still there – blazing away. Every second of the day and night the sun alone burns 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen and converts that into 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.  At the center of the sun the temperature is 15,600,000 degrees Kelvin.  That’ll cook a hot dog for you…really fast.

I could go on with facts and figures about the sun for a long, long time.  I never tire of the wonder of it all – the immensity.  And to think it all came into being by the words, “Let there be…”  Wow.

I could wander among the stars ceaselessly, mesmerized by the beauty of that part of God’s creation.  (In case you like to do that, too, you can go to this web site for incredible deep space pictures: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/.) 

But space is dark, and space is hostile.  It is not a place for the timid or those concerned about security.  Not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut.  And stars are only seen by night.  

I can get frightened by sounds I hear in the dark house at night, or sounds that seem to be just outside the bedroom window.  Night time is a time to be scared, but it is also when the stars can be seen.  An American astronomer spoke these wonderful words: I have lived among the stars for too long to fear the night.  Oh, how I like that!  It makes me think of the Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16 (NIV) – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

Living in the Presence of that Star will be the most awesome of all.  Here, we see through a glass darkly, but then, oh praise God, then – we shall see face to face!  And there is no reason to fear the night, for there will be no more night…just the brightest Star of all, shining in glory eternally!

PRAYER:  Lord, you tell us that our lives are like a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next.  You have filled our lives with people – some we enjoy, others we don’t – and with moments to make a difference for eternity.  What a privilege you have given to us!  May we use life wisely before the vapor that is our days is gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/28/16 – What I Struggle to Believe

DayBreaks for 4/28/16 – What I Struggle to Believe

I suppose all of us have our struggles with faith. It seems to be a fairly normal part of the human condition. There are those who don’t believe in a Creator but who choose to believe that somehow, something came out of nothing and exploded with tremendous force without an apparent cause. This would seem to contradict the laws of cause and effect and it certainly doesn’t explain how something (matter) came to exist in the first place. But that’s not what this is about.

You see, I, and most Christians I know, don’t really struggle to believe in a Creator – the God of the Bible. We may hold different opinions on how God did that which He did do – was it via a big bang that He created the universe (after creating the matter) or did He do it some other way? True believers have differences of opinion on that, but true believers also believe in a Creator.

I have no problem believing in the Creator. None whatsoever. That which exists just won’t let me deny His work in creation. So what is it that I have a hard time believing?  Read on.

I struggle to believe that in this vast created universe, that God even knows that I exist, and even more so, that not only does He know I exist, He loves me and cares about me.

What is it that makes me feel or doubt those things?

For the first subject, I suspect that running the universe in all its immensity and complexity, is a big, BIG job. God Himself said as much in Job. He doesn’t say that it is a job that is too big for Him – not at all!  But can you imagine how big of a job it must be? I know when I’m very busy, I don’t think that often about other people – even those most important to me. I get caught up in my work and thinking about it. So, I am really imposing my own human limitations on an unlimited being when I think He’s too busy to notice me.

As to the second point, even if He does know I exist somewhere in the vastness of the universe, why should He care about me and love me? Ah, now there’s the rub, isn’t it? What have I done to commend myself to Him and His good will? Nothing, really. Sure, I know that Scripture says I am made in His image, but what a flawed image of Him I reflect! But, Scripture says it – and even more than that – Christ’s crucifixion is proof of it!

You see, what we struggle to believe most of all is the truth that we can see on Calvary through the eyes of faith. What a truth it is! It is our challenge to believe it, accept it and be forever grateful for it!

Isaiah 43:1 (NLTse) – But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you, I have called you by name; you are mine.”

PRAYER: Father, You know our struggle with faith and how because of our sinfulness we struggle to believe You love us. I am thankful that our little faith doesn’t threaten You or cause You to love us less. Let us accept the wonderful truth that You are aware that we are here in the vastness of space and that You love us enough that You died for us to prove it to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.