Friday, October 03, 2008

Detail and Vastness

My chemistry lessons tend to hold some of my most meaningful daily encounters with the splendor of God.

Almost every day, as I work through chemical problems with my students, we find ourselves readily converting back and forth between units using powers of ten. Hertz become megahertz and you have an FM radio frequency, but when hertz become kilohertz, you have an AM radio frequency; meters become nanometers and you have the wavelength of visible light, but when meters become angstroms, you have begun to approximate bond distances; Joules of energy can melt a small ice cube, but when joules become kilojoules, you have enough energy to bring a bucket of ambient water to boiling.

Simply stated, scale changes everything!

Sometimes, when I drive home from work, I just think about how crazy scale truly is. If I take a meter stick and divide it into ten parts, and then divide it into ten parts again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again, I have finally found the scale on which I can measure the distance between the sugar and phosphate groups in the backbone of my DNA strands. But, if I take the same meter stick and multiply it by ten and multiply it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again, I can now view the entire earth and the orbit of the moon against the backdrop of the Milky Way. Wow!

And then I think that the life I know, incredibly complex and organized, exists on only one little portion of these scales of ten.

Who am I in the scheme of such great magnitude of detail and vastness?

And then I ponder the love that God shows to this little planet that I live on. I think about His desire for relationship with us. In fact, the whole purpose of this great vastness in the first place was that a people would understand that they had been created by an infinite God to love and worship and adore Him with all their hearts and souls and minds. This is truly humbling.

Why do I so often live my life like this is all there is?

There is so much detail and vastness in the universe, far above and beyond the approach of the imagination. And to think that vastness not only extends in space, but in time - all the way to eternity! That is truly both sobering and exciting!

We are not all that there is; there is so much more. Oh, for grace to live this life for its purpose!