The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
An amazing feat in human history was achieved over the weekend. For many, it went by with little or no fanfare because of the present occupation with the Presidential elections. Nonetheless, this feat is right up there with the annals of the deepest sea dive, the world speed record and Lindbergh’s non-stop flight. You see, a man, Felix Baumgartner stood on a platform 24 miles above the earth’s surface and proceeded to jump into a free fall. After four minutes and 20 seconds, he landed safely in the New Mexico desert. In the process, he broke the sound barrier, becoming the first human being ever to do so without the aid of aircraft or vehicle.
Now, I am a science fiction fan and love the ‘geeky’ facts and figures of such an effort. Facts like
- Being 128,100 feet above sea level, the air is less than 10% oxygen.
- It took nearly three hours for Baumgartner to rise the distance in a 550 foot tall helium ballon.
- If he did not use his specially designed capsule to dive in, Baumgartner would have burned up in less than minute due to the frictional movement of his body through the air.
- At one point he reached a speed of just over 830 miles an hour or Mach 1.24.
Despite these wonderful tidbits and Jeopardy factoids, I found the most interesting thing to be his speech just before he jumped. Baumgartner’s speech garbled through the communication system 24 miles above our heads. He said,
“I know the whole world is watching now, and I wish the world could see what I see. And sometimes you have to go really high to see how small you are.”
A truly profound statement in the light of the wondrous view of the earth circling beneath him. Unencumbered by windows or machinery, he stands on the edge of space and in so doing, see how insignificant we are.
David, the pro ported writer of this Psalm provides a humbling account of the power of God’s creation. In this Psalm of orientation, he places God and God’s creation in their proper order: God as enthroned and God’s creation as conveying God’s glory. Reading the entire Psalm, one gets awestruck at the power and authority of God as conveyed through God’s creation. The text says creation doesn’t need to speak to convey that power. There is no direct voice or speech to proclaim the power of God, yet the message of the intent of the Creator is clear: we are not it.
“Creation declares the work of the Lord” and thus puts all of creation in its place. We too need to marvel at the wonder and power of God through God’s creation and movement in the world. There is much already working around us to testify to the power of God and we often miss it. The changing of the seasons, the migration of birds and the phases of the moon all testify to the power of God as the sovereign creator. When we consider all that our senses are able to take in and perceive, we should look and wonder as the hymn writer said, “Then sings my song, my savior God to thee, ‘How great thou art, How great thou art.’”
We ought not need a perspective of 128,000 feet to know that we are not the center of the universe nor as important as we think ourselves to be. It should not take us having to commit a great feat for science and humanity to know that we are but fragile beings who are easily distracted and destroyed. Everything we see, and experience, should remind us that God is indeed sovereign. If we operated from that understanding and not a high and mighty perch, then perhaps we would be better stewards of this world and of ourselves. After all, knowing and living out the difference between a steward and master is the key to having a vision of truth.