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28 August 2022
Faith strengthened amidst the vastness of space
Words Phil Callaway
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson decided to go on a camping trip. After a sausage sandwich and some stories around the fire, they set up their tent and lay down for the night.
Hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his friend.
“Watson, look up at the sky. Tell me what you see.”
Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.”
“What does that tell you?”
Watson pondered a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me there are billions of stars and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are minute. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?”
Holmes was silent a minute, then replied: “That someone has stolen our tent!”
As a child, I loved lying on my back on warm summer nights, looking up at the stars. The night sky is a perfect canvas for a child’s imagination to scribble on. Were the stars looking back at me? What were they thinking? Could I reach them in a hot-air balloon?
My budding brain envisioned cities and civilisations out there – creatures with tentacles and big eyes hurtling toward us in flying saucers. Or perhaps the aliens were cute and cuddly.
Sometimes my brothers pointed out constellations to me. “That big cluster over there is Bert the water buffalo. That long squiggly line with the scoop on the end? That’s the big slipper.”
As the years passed, my fascination with the night sky only grew.
I learned that our humble little Milky Way galaxy contains somewhere between 100 and 200 billion stars. And if you leave the Milky Way, you’ll find billions upon billions of galaxies so distant that you couldn’t reach them in our fastest spaceship in a billion lifetimes.
Smart people say there might be as many as three sextillion stars in the universe. That’s a three followed by 23 zeros.
Our star, the sun, is so big you could barely squeeze 1.3 million Earths inside it. But as stars go, our sun is just a little fellow. The largest star our telescopes have discovered is UY Scuti. If I were to name it, I’d call it YU Sohuge. If you wrapped a measuring tape around Scuti, it would have to reach 7.5 billion kilometres. Scuti is an estimated 21 billion times the volume of our sun. Yet it’s only a tiny speck on God’s vast tapestry of space.
Each morning at breakfast, I read from a little devotional book, a collection of Bible verses.
This morning, various verses from Psalms, Romans and Acts spoke of the stars. “The heavens are telling the glory of God. They are a marvellous display of His craftsmanship. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made and have known of His existence and great eternal power. He never left Himself without a witness. Day and night, they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world. When I look up into the night skies and see the work of Your fingers – the moon and the stars You have made – I cannot understand how You can bother with mere puny man, to pay any attention to him.”
In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, circling it three times. As he gazed out the windows of Discovery, he said, “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”
Let’s take time to gaze at the stars this week. And let’s ask ourselves why we would fear anything we face today when the God who created all of this loves us.
Phil Callaway is a Canadian award-winning author and speaker. He hosts the daily radio show Laugh Again. This story first appeared in the Canadian Faith & Friends magazine and uploaded to salvationist.ca/articles/star-struck