March 9, 2015


Size matters, we are told. One big company taking over another big company (just think Staples acquiring Office Depot) results in a huge company that, according to common M.B.A. wisdom, will lead to significant cost synergies and corporate streamlining. That’s the theory. We all remember what happened when huge companies and banks—“too big to fail”—started to crumble in 2008. The scars of this financial meltdown can still be seen (and felt) today.

Here is another facet of “size matters”: You are one of roughly 7.2 billion people (give or take a couple million) living on this planet. Seven billion is a large number; some of us get claustrophobic simply when we have to share close space with thousands of spectators at a sports stadium. If we would put the entire world population in one spot, giving each individual two square feet for space, we could all fit together in about 500 square miles, less than half the surface of the state of Rhode Island. That’s us—all bunched together.

I doubt that you could see us from the moon, which is only 238,900 miles away.1 You would definitely not be able to see the 7.2 billion bunched together from Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to earth. If you would want to visit Alpha Centauri, you would have to travel at the speed of light (that’s 186,000 miles per second, not hour) for 4.3 years, covering trillions of miles. (I won’t even try to put that number with all the needed zeros on paper.) The galaxy closest to us (beyond our own Milky Way Galaxy) is the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, which is “only” 25,000 light-years away from our sun.2 In order to visit this galaxy we would have to travel at the speed of light (again, that’s 186,000 miles per second) for 25,000 years!31 1 7 8

I struggle to make sense of these immense numbers and distances. The drive from Maryland to Collegedale, Tennessee (roughly 10 hours if you keep to the speed limits), feels long to me. The distances to Alpha Centauri and the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy just don’t make sense.

Remember, we are still standing bunched together, all 7.2 billion of us, somewhere on Rhode Island. We are different; our faces have diverse features; there are tall and short people in the crowd; our skin colors vary; our languages, hairstyles, and dress styles are distinct. Yet if we take a picture from one of the satellites orbiting earth, we would have a hard time making out the details. We are just too tiny; the distances are just too great.

Size matters—especially the size of an all-mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent God who tells me (and you and the entire world) that He loves us so much that He Himself flashed past Alpha Centauri and the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy to humble Himself and take on the form and shape of a servant (Phil. 2:5-8). In fact, He tells us that He knows the exact number of hair on our head (Matt. 10:30). That’s another big number (multiplied by 7.2 billion) that God is keeping track of, even though it may be diminishing in some of us.

As I glance up to the moon and the starry sky on a clear night, again and again I am amazed at the fact that I matter to God. I am dumbfounded by His commitment to a world in rebellion when He has millions and trillions of other stars and galaxies to worry about. I don’t understand why He would come and allow His creatures to hang Him on a cross and bear the pain and shame of separation from the Source of all life. I just don’t get it.

What I get, however, is that size matters. And since His size must be in another dimension, capable of doing what He has promised, I am ready to take hold of His hand; hang on tightly; and enjoy hearing His kind voice talking to me through His Word—both the written and the Incarnated one.

By the way: I can’t wait to travel to Alpha Centauri and the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, hanging on tightly to His hand. That’ll be a rush!

  1. I know the distance to the moon can vary because of the elliptical path of the moon’s orbit, so take this number as an approximation.