There’s a worship song I know we all have heard titled “How Great Is Our God” and that’s what I would like to focus on this post. You see, we all sing the song and I truly believe we all mean it. We do. What I think our finite minds cannot comprehend is EXACTLY how infinite and the vastness and true awe-inspiring greatness of our God that is so big, so gracious, so Holy and beyond remarkable that I think we cannot truly appreciate Him in all His majesty and splendor.
I love science. Don’t misunderstand me…I like apologetics and my Bible study and understanding His love and mercy for us but I am going to make a confession. I came from a broken home…physically abusive, dysfunctional parents, the whole package so for me, self-esteem has been an issue. I remember my mother telling me on more than one occasion that “even God loses His patience with you”. And I believed her for 28 years until God called me. To this day, I struggle with trying to understand how a God so great could love me when my own parents could not or did not show me that type of love. This is no judgment on my parents; through the years and through many of my own trials as an adult, I have come to appreciate them as two individuals who were ultimately unhappy and lost themselves. My parents are not saved; in fact that’s one are The Lord is working on. Healing has not come quickly…but His ways are above my own. Patience was never my virtue but God in His infinite wisdom found a way and one day, I became a parent. God is teaching me love through the eyes of my son. I sometimes wondered why God would pick me…I’ve had raging anger issues, was nearly atheist at times in my life but for the most part agnostic. I didn’t understand God but when I was called and gave Him my heart, the anger was lifted. I cannot say it is something that is eliminated. I have moments where I back-slide but God is teaching me all about patience and love through my son. But let’s back up. Most atheists have a problem with this but I cannot deny what the Holy Spirit has shown me in my life and He spoke to me personally through science. It blows my mind. It’s the tangible proof of our Majestic God. He’s so big, so amazing that I want to share with you what I saw. As you know, my area is molecular biology. I study the small microscopic parts that make up every tissue and organ within our bodies but today, I want to big. Really big. Light year big.
If any of you have not had the opportunity to see Louie Giglio’s talk titled “Indescribable”, I am linking the video at the end of the post so you can watch it. This post is based on what I saw there and it brought me to tears (and I’m not ashamed to admit it). This Psalm keeps resonating in my heart and mind:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalms 8:3, 4 NKJV)
What is man that You are mindful of him? What am I, Lord, that you are mindful of me? My problems, my worries, my hopes, and my dreams?
Let me take you on a brief journey so we can put ourselves in perspective. A lot of times we get caught up in the activities and problems of our individual lives everyday that some things seem so big, too big for Him to forgive. But you’re wrong there. Let me show you just how significant we are…
“The Heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His Handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.” -Psalm 19
Look up at the sky…the stars are on display showing us the amazing, indescribable our God is! Don’t sell our God out to be a small…He is awesome!
“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” While most believe in the Big Bang, I too, believe in it. I believe that when God did create the heavens and the earth, there was a REALLY big bang, and when God said, “Let there be light”, light shot out of the mouth of God at 186,000 miles per second. That is the speed light travels…a beam of light can go around the Earth 7 times in one second. (Louie Giglio). Take a moment to think about that!
Our universe is so massive…we still do not know the exactly dimensions of it so we study what is called the “known universe” and the numbers I am about to give you will blow your mind!
Louie says that the biggest dilemma for scientists is finding more habitable planets within our known universe. To date, we have found NO intelligent life…actually no real life at all. One of the arguments is “if the universe is just a habitation for you and I, its severely oversized…BUT what if the primary purpose of the Universe is to show off the splendor and majesty and glory of the God that created it all? Then the universe is really just the right size!
“By the word of the Lord the Heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” -Psalm 33:6 NKJV
We live in the Milky Way Galaxy…here is an image of our own little subdivision.
But before we go out into space, we need to establish the light year. If light travels at 186,000 miles per second, we measure how far light travels in one year and it would be 5.88 trillionmiles a year. This is the ruler we have to use to understand our known universe! Back to the Milky Way…we have billions of stars and our little solar system is within this beautiful whirlpool. By the way, scientists say there are billions of other galaxies with billions of stars within themselves! If we counted one star in our galaxy per second, it would take us 2,500 years to count the stars in the Milky Galaxy alone!
“To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” say the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.” -Isaiah 40:25 KKJV
God is so amazing He can call each of these stars by name…we have go to right-size our God today and understand truly how BIG He is and never shortchange Him.
Here is a composite shot of the Milky Way…we haven’t gotten outside the Milky Way but we have composite of many photographs and we are able to come up with this image. It is 100,000 light years across. That means you would have to travel 186,000 miles a second for 100,000 years to reach one end to the other.
Even within our own little Milky Way, we are NOT the center. The arrow in the image below is pointing to the area where Earth is approximately located. If our solar system is the size of the quarter, then the Milky Way is the size of the North American continent! That’s how consequential we are in our own galaxy! We are so tiny in the great vastness of the known universe.
The small arrow is pointing to roughly the location of Earth. Amazing, isn’t it?
This is you and me…the image is from Apollo 17. In the image you can see some geography but you cannot see countries, or cities, or people, you don’t see the great need, the poverty and strife, the glory or glamour, you cannot see cars or houses. You take a step back and realize that we are not that big at all. The fall of man tricked us into feeling important but in the great scheme of things, we are so tiny.
Neil Armstrong says, “I remember on the way home on Apollo 11 it suddenly struck the tiny pea, pretty and blue was the Earth. I put my thumb up and shut one eye and my thumb blotted out the Earth. But I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small”
In 1977 we launched Voyager to take images of our own planets and scientists from JPL on February 14, 1990, scientists asked Voyager, who has 3.7 billion miles away (traveling 40,000 miles an hour) turns around and took a series of photographs….60 images that it sends back to Earth. Each image 640,000 pixels and it took 5.5 hours for each pixel to make it back to Earth! When the image came back, it was the following. Please take a moment to see and appreciate the vastness…can you see Earth? Can you see the tiny dot suspended in a ray of sunshine caught in the photograph?
It’s a picture of earth rom 3.7 billion miles away…it’s a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Can you see us?
Here is a close up:
If you still can’t see Earth, here is a better shot:
Don’t you feel that shrinking feeling coming over you? Louie commented that he wasn’t trying to make us feel small but rather make us understand that we ARE small. Just a vapor in the wind, insignificant significance, a blip on the radar but as tiny as we are, we are known and LOVED by Majesty Himself! Just like He can name every star, He can name each of us by name and know the number of hairs on our head. He knows us…truly inside and out. He is aware of us and has come to invite us into a relationship with Him that will never end!
Let’s travel 93 million miles away to our sun…not too far.
This is our sun that burns all day, everyday. It is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and it only takes the light 8 minutes to travel the distance to reach us.
It is 100 times the radius of Earth:
And it came out of the mouth of God. This God is ferocious, intense, holy, and radiant splendor! Remember who you are worshiping!
Scientists say it would take the Gross National Product of the United States for seven million years for the local power company to run the sun for ONE SECOND. And this is just ONE star in our Milky Way, which is one galaxy inside our known universe. This image is a close up of the Sun’s surface…it’s a raging ball of fire!
Let us travel 440 light years out and arrive to Pleiades, mentioned in the prophets and in Job.
“Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?” -Job 38:31 NKJV
“Who else has held the oceans in His hand? Who has measured off the Heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the Earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?”
-Isaiah 40:12 NLT
That verse blows my mind…God measures the universe in the span of His hand…ONE hand. How GREAT is our God?
Let’s go 1,000 light years to the Vela Pulsar; this highly magnetized neutron star and it oscillates 11 times per second and it is sending a radio sequence out and even the stars are worshipping the Mighty God (see video Stars and Whales Mash Up Video located below)
Let’s go 8,000 light years out to the Hourglass Nebula, this is a dying star that is emitting many gases that creates this beautiful image.
Lets go 28 million light years away (remember its 28 million times 5.88 trillion miles) and we arrive to the Sombrero Galaxy! It’s 50,000 light years wide…we are about 6 degrees above the plane so it looks somewhat flat but do not let it fool you. See God’s handiwork!
Lets go even further 31 million light years away to the darling of astronomy, the Whirpool Galaxy (NGC 5194). It’s made up of hundreds of billions of stars! Scientists say every second, a star is being born and God is naming them all and putting them in place in His universe.
But let’s go further…no words to describe it. We are going further to a place that is Indescribable:
He made everything we have seen. Through Jesus, God made the world and Paul writes “He created all things, things in Heaven and things on the Earth”. Now we arrive to the cross…the creator of the Universe hung on a cross that He himself created:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” -Philippians 2:5
The Pslamist wrote:
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sin, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” -Psalm 103:8
That is the God we love and worship…a God that is slow to anger and abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT. We do not receive what we receive as our sins deserve because of our rebellious hearts…instead we receive “for as high as the Heavens are above the Earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us.” -Psalm 103:11 NIV
I just want to say that no matter what mess you are in today, I know that long before you made a mess out of your life, God made a mess out of His son for us and long before you decided what you would do with God, He decided what He would do with you. Guilt is over and shame has been done with at the cross of Jesus Christ…and that’s what we call ASTRONOMICAL GRACE!
One last image…you can make of this what you want. “X-structure at the core of the Whirpool Galaxy”.
You can make of this what you want but I see GRACE…I see the cross. I see forgiveness, acceptance, love. Everywhere I look in life, I see “It’s Jesus Christ, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world”. It’s mercy when you least expect to find it…it’s grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness. It’s God screaming, “I LOVE YOU”
Thank you Jesus, for paying for my sins on the cross. Thank you for not giving me according to my sins deserve and repay me with the same coin I have paid you with but instead, you remove my sins and wash me white as snow. Thank you Jesus for Your sacrifice and loving me enough to set me free. I live now to glorify you, even if that brings me trials and tribulations, I stand at the very least with this account to testify of Your grandeur and majesty and most of all, Your love. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray. Amen