My husband and I both for a time worked in the aerospace industry (of course I no longer do, but he still does). The other day we were discussing the future of the space industry, the new ideas for different launch vehicles, and the goals being set by different companies. As we talked about the explorations of the past, through things like the Voyager program, and the hopes for future explorations, I became once again amazed at the unfathomable vastness of this universe. It's size and expanse is truly incomprehensible to us.
Look at some of the facts about this universe:
Then in 1977, as part of exploring this vast universe, The Voyager Program launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The probes explored the planets and moons of the outer Solar System over several decades as it traveled toward interstellar space. On March 20 2013, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the Solar System and is now the furthest human-made object from Earth, currently 124.34 Astronomical Units away (more than 11 billion miles from our sun). Voyager 2 is speeding along at more than 39,000 mph, but will take more than 296,000 years to pass Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky.
While on its journey, in 1990 Voyager 1 turned its camera back on our home planet and took a picture. This became known as The Pale Blue Dot. Seen from 6 billion kilometers away, the Earth appears as a tiny blue speck in the depths of space. It reminds us how seemingly insignificant the earth is by comparison to the vast expanse of the universe.
However, as small and insignificant as we may seem, we are strangely unique. We are the only planet that is capable of sustaining life. Yet, if we believe that God uniquely created us, that humans on this earth were made in the very image of God, it brings up an interesting question. Why all this stuff in space? Why are all of those huge stars and galaxies and planets necessary? Why are we surrounded by all of this?
Well, it made me wonder. Why would God go about creating all of that? And I understand that much of it really is in place for our benefit. The sun gives us things necessary for life; the moon controls our tides; the gravitational pull of Jupiter protects us from meteor strikes. But then I realized - it just speaks to the awesome wonder of our Creator God. Why wouldn't He fill up space with other wondrous things?
The best analogy I could think of us with our own backyards. No matter what size yard you have, we all try to add something to it simply to enjoy looking at it. And it's not always situated in the same spot. You spread it out. In one corner you plant an azalea bush (or two or three because in the south we love azaleas). In another corner you might have a rose bush surrounded by smaller daisies. And in between you have a small rock garden with a fountain and lilies in the water, maybe a few pansies around the twists and turns of a path. Then you have a nice apple tree in the middle to give you some shade. We do all of that to enjoy the beauty of what we can plant - create - and cultivate. You are the master of your yard and you can design amazing things simply to see their beauty and grandeur.
Think about what all that looks like to something small and insignificant, say, the ant. He's so tiny so all he sees are these monstrous colors spread out across this huge expanse. And he wonders why did someone put that camellia bush so far away that he can barely see it? And it will take him years to travel out there to it, just to see what it smells like.
Consider what all that can also reveal about the gardener. I love to design gardens and pick out different plants and colors and combinations. But I am TERRIBLE about them actually surviving. My son even asked me during one gardening project, "Are you putting that plant in the corner there so it can die too?" So if I had an even bigger yard, you would see how truly inept I am at gardening. But when you have a master gardener and you give them a large space, we usually sit back amazed at the beauty they can create. So the larger the space to garden, the more you can tell about the gardener.
The point is, it occurred to me that the vast expanse, wonder, and grandeur of space - and how much of it is even still undiscovered - all point to the vastness, wonder, and grandeur of our Creator. He is using this universe like His giant garden, planting a galaxy here, a planet over there, and stars all around. He does it with the same purpose that He made us - to bring glory to Himself. It is why we should be in even more awe that a God so incredible who could create the wonders of this universe would care so deeply to desire a relationship with the seemingly insignificant person that I am.