“Space, the final frontier”, those words from Star Trek, one of my favorite television shows when I was younger, have fueled my imagination for years. Something about the stars and planets just excites me. As a child, I can remember getting for Christmas a set of glow in the dark stars and the moon to put on my bedroom ceiling. That simple inexpensive gift was one of the most valuable I have ever received. From then on I slept under the stars every night. Even now as an adult, there is nothing that takes my breath away quite like a clear starlit sky. Since moving to Kentucky and getting a job as a student minister in Cropper where the terrain is flat and wide open, I have been amazed at how the stars seem to burst forth from one side of the horizon to the other on a cloudless night. I can just stare up into the heavens for hours as lights twinkle and seem to fade into view the longer I look.
I am convinced that King David too was an avid star-gazer. In Psalm 19, David writes that the heavens declare the glory of God. David is absolutely correct. David also writes in Psalm 8 that God displays His splendor above the heavens. It is amazing to think that God spoke and brought all of creation into being. Sometimes in life, it is easy to get puffed up in pride or to think highly of one’s self. When the daily events of life begin to creep up on us, we tend to magnify our current circumstances and in turn magnify our significance. But just like David when we look into the night sky and see the billions of stars and all the work of God’s fingers, we begin to see the smallness of man. When we realize that our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains 200 to 400 billion stars of which the closest is 4.25 light years away and that our universe has billions of galaxies, then we can begin to catch a glimpse of just how small we are and how large God is. All of our problems and things that we find so much significance in become increasingly insignificant when viewed in relation with the entire universe.
When David views the stars in Psalm 8, he sees the insignificance of man, but yet he also sees the absolute kindness of God in that God would look favorable upon man. In all of creation, God in His love has set man just a little lower than Himself and set man up to have dominion over the earth. I am just amazed that God would entrust to us, the care of his creation. God who holds the entire universe of billions and billions of stars in the palm of His hand, chooses to let us share in His glory and majesty. It is beyond comprehension to think that God would love us this much. It is even more mind-blowing that God would Himself become man and die on the cross for a creature as insignificant as me.
It is in light of this great divide between God’s greatness and our smallness that makes our sin such a foul stench and injustice. That after God created us and loved us enough to share in His glory, we have rebelled and turned our hearts against Him in a futile attempt to be God is a gross betrayal of that love. When I think of my sin in this context, I am disgusted by my betrayal of His love and glory. In Psalm 51, David also comes to this conclusion regarding his sin. He rightfully concludes that he had sinned against God and not only was God able to punish him but that God would be justified and blameless if he did. It is in light of this greatness of God and smallness of ourselves that must realize that we can only do one thing and that is throw ourselves upon the mercy of God. In Psalm 51, after having committed adultery and murder David threw himself upon the mercy of God. He begged God for only what God could do, namely to cleanse him from the stain of sin. God doesn’t need or want our sacrifices. God already owns the entire universe, there is nothing that we can give Him to repay for our sins. God desires one thing and that is a broken and humbled heart. If God loves us enough to put us in charge of His creation then surely God loves us enough to forgive our sins when we run to Him. David knew this. He knew that only the one who created his heart could give him a clean heart pure from sin.
The great news is that this forgiveness and grace is given freely. Sometimes though we associate free with cheap but the gift of God was not cheap. In order for God to forgive and still be just, someone had to pay for sin. God sent His only Son to live the life I couldn’t and then to die in my place. In Romans 5, it says that while I was an enemy of God, He died for me. Just as Adam’s betrayal of God has led to the whole of the human race being cursed and deserving of death, the righteous love of Christ brings about our restoration. My works and deeds could never begin to fix the damage done by my sins. It takes the work of the one who never sinned to repair that damage. To think that the God of the universe would first of all create me and then second of all forgive my betrayal is amazing. God not only forgives but He gives me the promises that Jesus rightfully earned.
If it is not by my actions or deeds that I am saved then can I go on sinning? Romans 6 answers with a resounding no. Why should I continue to be a slave to destructive power of sin? If Jesus came to free me from sin and repair my relationship with God why would I even want to go back to the chains of sin. Sin is a deadly master looking to destroy. The God who created the heavens loved me enough to free me from that slave master. Yet there are times I try to run right back into those tyrant arms of sin. The good news is that not only did God free me from sin but that by His work I am also His. Those who belong to God, God holds and sustains. Even when the times in my life I try to go back to the old master, God does not let me go back under that slavery. God’s love truly is amazing in that He not only forgives us our sin but He works in us to make us righteous.
When I look at the billions of planets, I wonder why God did not just destroy us and start again on another planet. I am amazed at God’s persistent love for us. I am amazed at the unworthiness of myself and the great majesty of God. I am thankful that God forgives and gives new life to me. It is with David as in Psalm 51 that I can say, “O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.”