Insignificance

I was very fortunate to spend the last week at the beach, only my second visit ever and the first since I was in elementary school.  What a sight.  It is difficult to truly appreciate the vastness of the ocean without standing on its shores.  I remember looking out toward the horizon and seeing, in the distance, a group of people sailing, and after seeing this, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, they are REALLY far out there.”  In reality, they were probably a couple hundred yards out at most, but to me it seemed as if they were beyond feasible reach.

The circumference of Earth is around 24,870 miles, depending on where you’re measuring from.  If a person were to cover 100 miles a day, it would take 249 days to travel around it.  About 20 percent of Earth’s surface area is covered by the Atlantic Ocean, of which the Gulf of Mexico is a part.  To me, it is mind blowing how large Earth is, and how a person that was within sight of me seemed so far out of reach, and yet had not even traversed a tenth of a percent of this body of water.  This served as a great reminder of proportions.  To me, what seems so large, or so far away is, in respect to the universe, a microscopic measurement.  Let’s expand on this thought.

Earth, our great floating ball of life, is the third of eight (or nine, depending on when you grew up) planets that orbit the star we refer to as the Sun in our Solar System.  Our solar system is a small part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is comprised of anywhere from 100 – 400 billion stars and approximately 100 billion planets (rough estimates for obvious reasons) and a black hole in the center.  In the universe, it is thought that there are anywhere from 200 billion to 2 trillion galaxies, with a total number of stars that outnumber the number of grains of sand on Earth.

It is fairly difficult to approximate our existence in terms of the universe with anything else as, by this comparison, we are infinitely small.  In essence, we barely exist.  We are like a single proton in a single atom that composes a planet, and even that may be an overstatement.  And yet, here we are, living, breathing, procreating, advancing the forefront of technology, and fighting among ourselves over matters that are oftentimes trivial.  The existence of the human civilization is practically a miracle.  To the best of our knowledge, we are the only sentient life in the universe.  That is to say, there are a trillion different galaxies, each with billions of stars, and billions of planets, and on our planet, we’re here.  It seems nearly impossible to wrap the mind around such a fact.

Even more impossible to comprehend is that the creator of these trillion galaxies would regard the human race, such a minuscule presence, at all.  Even more so, that He would consider the human race worthy of mercy or benevolence.  Imagine you are standing in your yard on a warm summer day, and you look down at your feet and behold an ant hill.  In this ant hill lives a colony of ants.  Now imagine that you pick up one single ant, and care of its well-being.  As a matter of fact, you care so much about this ant that you are willing to sacrifice your child to see that this ant survives.  What a ludicrous thought! And yet, such is the truth of God’s relationship with us.  He beheld ants, tiny specs in the great universe, and not only thought of us, but thought of us enough to send His Son to ensure that our eternal well-being was taken care of.  An infinitely small and insignificant part of the universe, receiving the greatest gift possible.

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