Hello friends! It’s been a while since I have posted anything on this site. I apologize for taking quite a leave of absence over these past months. With grad school auditions, wedding planning, and working full-time, I haven’t had as much time to commit as I would’ve liked to this site. My wedding is now less than 5 weeks away, and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s been quite a journey, seeing how much I’ve changed, matured, and learned since I started answering your questions and posting in 2008. I’m going to try to get back into answering more of your questions that I have pending in my inbox, and back to more regular postings.
How significant are you? Does God care? What makes you and your problems so important? How BIG is God?
What I’d like to share with you today, is a perspective on the universe from Louis Giglio’s book, “Indescribable” and a talk called, ” If the earth were the size of a golf ball …”
THE SUN IS BIG. AND HOT.
I know that sounds a little simplistic, but let’s face it, we mortals have a hard time grappling with the true size of objects that are exponentially larger than us – especially on the scale of the stars.
Everyone knows the Sun is brights, and though it sits a seemingly comfortable ninetye-three million miles away, we all respect the intensity of its rays. And yet, we faintly know its terror. We watch it rise and set with glorious splendor, and note its stunning beams as they burst forth from the clouds and glimmer through the trees. But, trust me, the Sun is no gentle giant. It’s an orbiting thermonuclear reactor with staggering force and destructive energy.
A paradoxical mystery, “the Sun, with all those planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do.” Yet, you shouldn’t mistake its life-giving graces for kindness. The star that anchors our very existence is an exploding fireball emitting solar eruptions so forceful any one of them could strip the magnetic information off your credit cards from a distance as far away as the Moon is from Earth. In fact, in 2005, an electromagnetic jolt from a star over fifty thousand light-years away was still strong enough to rock Earth.
Often mistakenly labeled “just an average star,” the Sun is actually quite special in many ways. For example, “the Sun is among the 9 percent most massive stars in the Milky Way galaxy.” And, when it comes to the stability of light output, the Sun is at the top of the class. Were the Sun, instead of being stable, to have huge swings in output or if it were slightly closer to or farther away from Earth, most likely you wouldn’t be reading these words right now.
But what I’d like for us to get our heads around is the actual size of stars, which will help us to consider what that says about the One who makes them. The ancient Scripture tells us that God breathes out the stars. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Ps. 33:6). Wow. Reading and coming to terms with these words, we instantly know that God isn’t our size. He’s a beautiful, radiant, limitless, and holy Creator who demands and deserves our awe and devotion.
To put this in perspective, let’s take a closer look at just four stars He has made.
We’ve already talked about our Sun, but how can we grasp its size and scope? Years ago, while working on a message to convey these truths, a friend helped me create a comparison scale for the Sun and even larger stars that allows us to get a better sense of just how gigantic they really are. The comparison scale works like this: If Earth were the size of a golf ball, the Sun would be fifteen feet in diameter. That’s a measurement we can actually comprehend, and if you were looking for the ultimate science project, it’s on a scale you could reproduce. Taking it a step further, again, if Earth were a golf ball, you could fit close to one million Earths inside the Sun. That would be enough golf balls to fill an entire school bus!
But looking a little deeper into space we find a more massive star called Betelgeuse, which is 427 light-years away. Betelgeuse is so big, in fact, that it’s twice the size of Earth’s orbit around the Sun.4 When I first heard that fact as a teenager, it put a serious dent in my prayer life. How do you talk to a God who breathes out stars that huge? To put it in perspective using our comparison scale, if Earth were a golf ball, Betelgeuse would be the size of six Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.
What? Imagine going into Manhattan on a busy day, placing your golf ball at the base of the Empire State Building, walking across the block for a better vantage point and seeing five more Empire State Buildings on top of the real one, and then looking all the way back down to your tiny little golf ball on the sidewalk!
If that’s not crazy enough, check this out: You could fit 262 trillion Earths inside of Betelgeuse. If Earth were a golf ball, that’s enough Earths to fill an indoor football stadium with golf balls – three thousand times!
Hello. God is big. He’s much, much bigger than you think.
But let’s meet our third star, Mu Cephei. Also known as Hershel’s Garnet Star, Mu Cephei is a red supergiant and one of the largest and most luminous stars in our galaxy. Nearing death, Mu Cephei still must be respected. If Earth were the size of a golf ball, Mu Cephie would be as wide as two Golden Gate Bridges stretched end to end. Mu Cephei could hold 2.7 quadrillion Earths!
The last of our four stars, however, dwarfs them all. VY Canis Majoris is appropriately called “the big dog,” and while it’s 4,900 light-years from Earth, it boasts a diameter of about 1.7 billion miles. To say it another way, the distance around VY Canis Majoris is on the order of 8 to 9 times the 93-million-mile distance from Earth to the Sun.
If Earth were a golf ball, VY Canis Majoris would be the height of Mount Everest.
Hmm. So, if you need some fresh perspective on just how big the God you’re praying to is tonight, take an expedition to the top of the planet. Once there, unzip your parka and pull out your golf ball. Standing there on Mount Everest, six miles above sea level, consider for a moment that the golf ball is your home, and just one of the stars that came from the mouth of God is as tall as the mountain beneath your feet.
VY Canis Majoris is so monstrous you could fit seven quadrillion Earths inside it. That’s enough Earths, if Earth were a golf ball, to cover the entire state of Texas in gold balls – two feet deep. I’ve lived in Texas, and Texans pride themselves on “big.”But try to visualize the whole of Texas covered from end to end in golf balls up to your knees. Now imagine that somewhere among them is one called Earth, and that you’re standing on it right now.
Here comes that shrinking feeling again, and we’ve touched on just four stars among the hundreds of billions times hundreds of billion stars that God both created and oversees as He manages the heavens beyond our sight.
So maybe, in light of what we’ve seen here, a good plan would be to pause more often, turn down the volume of the earthbound “super-stars” we so quickly gravitate toward, and rest in the shadow of a God who exhales luminous balls of uncontrollable combustion as if they were merely fireflies on a warm summer night.
If the power of the stars is hard to fathom, how much more so is the power of the One who holds them in place beyond our understanding. If His are the arms that are holding you now, rest… and trust. You are in good hands.
Giglio, Louie; Redman, Matt (2011-11-01). Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe (pp. 144-150). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.
We can see a visual representation here in the pictures below:
And you can watch Louis Giglio present the size of the stars in a gorgeous way in the following video:
So what’s my point in sharing all of this with you? We often act like the entire universe revolves around us. But does it really? Are our problems really that significant? Jesus tells us some incredible words of wisdom in the Gospel of Matthew:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
We need not worry about what tomorrow or the future will bring. And as believers, we need not ever worry about what the present will even bring, or about any troubles that we are facing.
For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Scripture tells us that God literally BREATHED out the stars of the universe! That’s how big God is. We act like our own troubles are so significant and that we are the center of the universe, but what are you? Your life is nothing but a blink in the span of eternity, and you are but a single grain of sand in an endless ocean of sand.
Now to one who is not saved, it may seem that our lives truly are so insignificant. I mean, why would a God who is bigger than the entire universe, care for one second about you?
I get a different perspective.
29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.b 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
As we have seen in the above scriptures, God even cares about the smallest sparrow and ordains the fields of the earth in beauty with flowers. How much more does God care for you? God created mankind in His image.
You are worth more than you realize. Put your trust in the hands of the One who cradles the entire universe.