A Greater Sense of Majesty

By Chuck Griffin
Life Talk Editor

Psalm 8 (NLT)

In the 1987 movie “Roxanne,” Chris, the newly arrived fireman, has yet to meet the department chief, C.D. Bales. He has been warned, however, that the chief’s nose is, well, unusual, and that C.D. is a little sensitive about the subject.

And then they meet. Chris is mesmerized; all he can do is stare in shocked fascination, following every movement of this huge proboscis. “It’s hypnotic, isn’t it?” the chief finally asks.

“It’s huge! It’s enormous! It’s gigantic!” Chris responds. “I mean, they said it was big, but I didn’t expect it to be big!”

Although C.D. does joke at one point about his nose influencing the tides, noses and celestial bodies are very different things. But when I consider Psalm 8, I have a reaction a little like Chris’ as I consider the night sky and its moon and stars.

In the day the psalm was written, those who peered into the dark using only their naked eyes were astounded by what they saw—dazzling, inexplicable pin pricks of light, some coursing across the center of the sky like a river of milk, with a bright, shape-shifting orb as the dominant feature. And as they paused to imagine God making it all, they felt overwhelmed.

They did have one slight advantage over us. They had clear desert night skies with no artificial lights, a rare experience for most of us looking toward the stars now. But as we consider the sky, we have a huge advantage over them, rockets and telescopes of all kinds, some floating in space. Human feet have even trodden the moon.

What we see is in many ways far better understood than ever. Science has explained much. But simultaneously, as we better sense creation’s vastness, we also realize the scale of space and time is simply beyond full human comprehension.

Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, this photo was assembled by combining 10 years of NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a tiny patch of sky inside the constellation Fornax. You could easily cover this patch of sky with the tip of your pinky finger held at arm’s length. The lights are galaxies, each made up of billions of stars. The image at full resolution contains about 5,500 galaxies.

When they said it was big, we didn’t expect it to be big!

Faced with all this, some people give up on the idea of God. I simply become more intrigued. The precision, power and beauty of the universe combine so as to trigger every possible human emotion, even when the tale is dumbed down to an article suitable for a non-scientist like me.

We seem to have been created in part to appreciate God’s handiwork, and whenever we think we’re starting to get used to its intricacy, we see a little deeper, or we find something else needing explaining.

I am glad we are made in God’s image, tiny, poor reflections that we might be. We at least are able to scratch the surface of what God knows, appreciating our creator’s magnificence more with each discovery.

As the psalm says in its own ancient way, the universe is vast, but at the same time, we also believe its maker has taken a direct, loving interest in us. Perhaps God has done so repeatedly with other beings scattered across his vast life machine—the idea intrigues me. But what’s immediately important is we know he is in relationship with us now.

We’re on quite a ride, with enough scenery in heaven and earth to keep us mesmerized for eternity. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, who makes eternal life, understanding and awe possible!

Lord, thank you for science, technology and curiosity; may they always provide new ways to view your majesty and dominion over all things. Amen.

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