Pondering the universe generally elicits two responses: awe at its grandeur, and a sense of insignificance. In Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wind in the Door, when human characters learn to let go of limited concepts of time and space they can converse with stars. In the scale of the infinite universe – and an infinite God – size and distance are irrelevant so humans and stars are equally important. If that’s not mind-bending enough, they meet within a mitochondrion, thousands of which can exist inside a single human cell, to formulate a plan to save the world. The novel teaches that none of us are insignificant, but none of us are solely responsible for history.
When an angel told Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, that his elderly wife would conceive a child who would herald the messiah, Zechariah did not believe. As a result, he became mute until after John’s birth. Zechariah teaches us that insisting on our own limited view of things makes us powerless in the face of the future. Fortunately John believed in God’s long term plan, and trusted in something greater than himself until his death.
God plays a very long game. Martin Luther King Jr. may have said it best: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Our efforts may seem to make little difference, but from an infinite perspective, a small kindness and a great accomplishment are not very different. It is the accumulation and interaction of these kindnesses and accomplishments that matters. To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, we add our own light to the sum of all light. On a small scale light moves quickly, but across the galaxy it travels for many thousands of years and the star that generated it may have burned out before we ever see it. So it is with our contributions to the world: they may not be fully understood until long after we have burned out, but our light goes on.
Today’s struggles do not define us. Like mitochondria each of us is a tiny part adding life to the eternal body of Christ. Such perspective adds to the sum of our peace.
Comfort: To an eternal God, stars and humans and grains of sand are equally significant.
Challenge: Read Psalm 90, noting the eternal perspective of the psalmist.
Prayer: Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:16-17)
Discussion: Have you ever been involved in a long-term project, perhaps one that continues long after you stopped (or will stop) being part of it? What did that feel like?
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