My family huddled around our TV last Sunday night to watch a rocket fire its way into space. NASA livestreamed the SpaceX Dragon flight, and I watched with a slack jaw as humans hurtled through the atmosphere, leaving Earth behind at over 17,000 miles per hour, and sailed into the most unknown, uncharted place.
“Astronaut” is borrowed from the Greek words for “sail” and “stars.” Like Columbus, they push away from port to navigate unknown, uncharted waters.[i]
Unknown to man, that is.
After watching SpaceX launch the Dragon, I picked up a book called The Work of His Hands by Colonel Jeffrey Williams, who spent six months orbiting earth in the International Space Station, photographing our planet from his perspective, and gaping at his Creator.
Between pages brimming with photos, he writes:
“Earth is a marvelously beautiful planet—the blue planet—orbiting the brilliant sun in the middle of a vast universe populated by an amazing star field. The beauty of colors, patterns, and variations on the Earth and in its atmosphere exceed the best of art.”[ii]
I flipped over a page displaying the belly of the blue planet, and Williams quoted Job 26:14:
“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of Him!”
“No matter that the works of creation are so incredible,” the star-sailor writes. “Those works are but on the fringe. Though the view shouts with beauty, it is but a whisper.”[iii]
You and I will likely never leave Earth, never sail above it, never look down to marvel. But we can (and should) look up. Look up, past the naked November trees, past the housetops, past the clouds and the troposphere and the flaming stars. And remember…
It’s a small, small whisper.
[ii] Ibid, 47
[iii] Ibid, 49