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I have previously listed in this column what I consider the two most important truths in the universe: 1) There is a God, and 2) You’re not Him.
Today I would like to offer this corollary truth: God is BIG, and we are small.
Many have undertaken to explain exactly how big God is. One old preacher said it this way, “God is so big He bumps into Himself.”
That’s pretty big.
I was reminded of just how big God really is during my recent trip to Poland where our team helped to put on a basketball camp for young adults from across Eastern Europe.
Because of participating in this trip over the years, I now have friends not only in Poland, but in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine as well.
Each time I go, my picture of God expands, and the world seems to shrink just a little bit, as I get to know more and more people from the various countries represented at the camp.
This year I had the opportunity to speak in the worship services that took place each evening. Because many of the young adults at the camp were from countries that do not have a Christian heritage, I decided to start with the basics and try to communicate how big the God of the Bible is.
Borrowing some talking points from Louie Giglio (to see his talk, do a YouTube search for “Louie Giglio Indescribable”), I tried to allow the heavens to help me describe an indescribably big God.
Psalm 19:1 says, “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.”
Because there were many countries and languages represented in my audience, I thought the universal language of the universe might be a good place to start.
First I showed a picture of the Milky Way and talked about how numerous the stars are. For example, scientists say that if you counted the stars just in our galaxy at the rate of one star per second, it would take 2,500 years to count them all.
That’s a lot of stars!
I then shared Isaiah 40:25: “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy one. ‘Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens; Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.’”
Even though there are countless billions of stars, the Bible says that God is so big that He put each one of them in place and is able to call each one of them by name! That’s big!
Next, I addressed the sheer size of our galaxy, the Milky Way, which is 100,000 light years across.
To gain perspective, one must first grasp just how far a light year is. A light year is, of course, the distance that light travels in a year. How far is that? Well, the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, which means a beam of light can encircle the earth 7 times in a single second.
So, if you travel 186,000 miles per second for a whole year, you travel one light year – 5.88 trillion miles. That’s pretty far.
But to travel from one side of the Milky Way to the other requires you to go 186,000 miles per second for 100,000 years!
Or think of it this way: If our solar system (with our sun and the surrounding planets) were the size of a quarter, the Milky Way would be the size of North America.
If that isn’t enough to boggle your brain, it’s important to remember that the Milky Way is only one of thousands of galaxies in the universe.
Many scientists think there must be more inhabited planets in other galaxies because if the universe is simply here for us, it’s extremely oversized. And if the universe were here simply for us, I would agree with them that it is too big.
But what if the universe isn’t here for us? What if the universe is here to show the beauty and splendor and majesty and power and the greatness and glory of God?
Isaiah 40:12 says that God measures the heavens “with the breadth of his hand.”
What we measure in light years, God measures by hand-widths. Indeed, God is big.
He is bigger than our biggest hopes, our biggest dreams, our biggest fears and our biggest prayers. Maybe the universe isn’t too big after all.
But if the heavens tell us how big God is, they also tell us how small we are. I can identify with the writer of Psalm 8:3-4 who said, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?”
Compared with the vastness of the universe and the greatness of God, we are insignificant indeed.
But as Giglio concludes, it is a “significant insignificance” because the indescribably big Creator of the universe has taken a personal interested in us.
I left the campers that night with this question: What if the creator of the infinite universe is interested in you? What if the God who calls each star by name also knows yours?
Now, not only is God big, I believe He also has a sense of humor.
When I finished my talk, I encouraged the campers to go outside and look up at the stars and consider how big God was.
Of course, it was cloudy.
Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.