Our family went camping every summer. It was fun, healthy, and cheap.
We developed some cool rituals. At sundown we’d start the fire and look for Venus as it chased the sun into oblivion. An hour and some charred marshmallows later, we’d slouch back in our lawn chairs and spot satellites arcing noiselessly overhead—silent testimonies to the ingenuity of our species. We felt proud.
Later we’d walk to the beach for a lingering scan of God’s handiwork. We’d lie on our backs identifying constellations like Ursa Major and her cub. We’d gaze at the Milky Way, our home galaxy, an ocean of billions of stars among trillions of other such oceans. We felt small.
We’d speculate about the black hole at the center of our galaxy—a mass as dense as thousands of suns squished by gravity into a space smaller than the head of a pin. We’d wonder what it would be like on a neutron star, where a teaspoon of it would weigh so many tons that on earth it would immediately crash through the spoon and the floor and the ground and dive straight to the center of our planet. Why did God dream up stuff like that? We were mystified.
From there we’d drift off into more metaphysical speculations:
- Are we alone in the universe?
- Why are we here?
- What makes me, me?
- Where is heaven?
- What’s it like after we die?
- Why do horrible things happen to good people?
Centuries earlier, when asked that last question, another Parent took his angry kid out of doors and showed him those same heavens. This is how it went:
Sitting out in the dark on an ash heap, scraping his sores with a potsherd, God’s good servant Job storms the gates of heaven with his wails. Why was all this unfair suffering suddenly happening to him?
In response God stops by for a chat, but not to explain it all to Job. No sir! Doing so would put Job in the judgment seat, not exactly his rightful place. So the real Judge turns the tables on Job and questions him instead: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge. . . . I will question you, and you shall answer me ” (Job 38:1-2).
Then God directs Job’s accusing gaze heavenward:
“Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?
Can you loose the cords of Orion?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (38:31-32).
Bottom line: Job needs to see how small he is. Why? So he can see how immense God is. A glance upward lets Job see the folly of his line of questioning. Who is he to demand an accounting from his Creator? Why can’t he just believe that God knows what needs doing? Why does he demand that God explain it all to him before he’ll trust his Maker and give God the benefit of the doubt?
Today we know a lot about the heavens. We can Google answers to every conceivable question except the really important ones.
The answer to those? Look up. Our good God knows.
That’s good enough.