Big World, Pale Blue Dot

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I distinctly remember my first time traveling outside North America. As I walked along the airport terminal, I scanned at the flights boards—London, Paris, Munich, Moscow, Cairo, Stockholm, Dubai, Beijing—and then the faces of people from these cities all around the world.

I had just come from a summer evangelism program where I’d seen God work in unbelievable ways. But now I was beginning to feel overwhelmed at the utter magnitude of people that still didn’t know Jesus.

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel…”  The world seemed much bigger than I realized before. Slumping down in a corner of the airport, I began asking God how His command was even possible.

Can you relate?

Let’s switch perspectives for a moment.

It was February 14,1990, and the Voyager 1 spacecraft screamed through the darkness of space, traveling forty thousand miles per hour away from the Sun. Launched thirteen years earlier, in 1977, Voyager was now beyond Pluto, having successfully accomplished its mission of photographing each of our distant neighbor planets. Amazingly, though the spacecraft was flying past the edges of our solar system, scientists had Voyager take one last Earth-facing image before continuing on its one-way journey away from the Sun through space.[1]

The picture Voyager sent back to earth has come to be called “The Pale Blue Dot”. It’s a much different picture than those taken by Apollo missions, in which the Earth looks like a beautifully designed marble floating in dark night.

For the first time, humanity was looking at the Earth from the edges of the solar system, and it rocked the world of astronomy. Suspended in a shaft of light is a tiny speck.

That speck is us. Not you and me. Not our town, our state, our country, or our continent. It’s the Earth.

The arrow points to the Earth; photo taken from 3.7 billion miles away

The arrow points to the Earth; photo taken from 3.7 billion miles away (Source: Scientific American/NASA)

This picture was taken from the edge of our solar system. The size of our solar system in relation to our Milky Way Galaxy is roughly about the size of a quarter in relation to the entire North American continent. And our galaxy is only one of innumerable others in our universe.

But here’s the kicker: our God breathed this universe into existence.

He’s the same God who came and died for us. He’s the same God who is longing to live inside of each of us so that we become like Him and shed His glory in our world, our pale blue dot.

Maybe the problem isn’t with the impossibility of the command, but with our understanding of the God who has given it.

[1] Louie Giglio and Matt Redman, Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe (David C. Cook, 2011), 59.