Three a.m. and Wide Awake

The mind is a funny thing. It can be creative in the small hours of the morning and solve your problems. As a high school algebra student, I had that happen more than once. I’d go to bed puzzled about a problem, then wake up with the answer.

Great when your mind solves a problem without actually involving you in the process!

The mind can also be anxious in those hours. Half the people I know who wake up between midnight and dawn tell me they are worried about unidentified problems. Anxiety is a sleep-stealer.

Once in a while, I have awakened with a great article that just cried to be written. On one occasion, I got up and wrote it down. Next morning, far from being disappointed, I was impressed. Good stuff, I thought. I worked with it over the next few days and then sent it off to several magazines to see if the editors had a use for it.

InterVarsity Press’ “His” magazine bought the article and ran it in a choice place–the inside back cover. Over the next 15 years, from time to time I would receive small checks in the mail from other magazines that found it and ran it. Several notes from editors in foreign countries like Korea and New Zealand advised me they were running the article.

So, I learned to get up and write it down.

Here’s what I wrote down one morning this week. Strange? A little, maybe. An article for magazines? I seriously doubt it. Nevertheless, here it is.


I was lying in bed thinking about this world we’re privileged to live in. This planet we are privileged to live on.

NO VIBRATIONS.

Here we are on this globe we named Earth, hurling through space at so many thousands of miles per minute. The most amazing thing is the absence of vibrations.

We go outside in the daytime and see the sun and at night the moon, to remind us of our precarious position in the universe, where we are and what we are doing.

And yet. We are as steady as a rock. The glass of water on my desk, just to the right of the computer, does not ripple.

Even Air Force One vibrates and rumbles with turbulence. The largest planes are still subject to air pressures and wind variations outside.

And yet earth doesn’t seem to move.

One would think life on this small planet would be much like trying to cook a meal on an RV as it tools down the interstate–swaying, bumping, swerving.

But it’s not. It’s steady.

How amazing is that.

(Added later. The comic strip “Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!” for December 5, 2010, gives us the numbers the above material was needing. A professor tells “rockiteers” the answers to the question: “How fast are you moving?” How’s this….

–1,000 mph is the approximate speed the earth is rotating at the equator.

–66,000 mph is the approximate speed the earth is revolving around the sun.

–43,000 mph is the approximate speed our solar system is moving inside our galaxy.

–450,000 mph is the approximate speed our galaxy is rotating.

–1.3 million mph is the approximate speed our galaxy is traveling through the universe.

And then the professor notes: “If all this movement were in the same direction, that would be a combined 1.9 million miles per hour. No wonder you’re tired!” Then he adds, “Not all the movement is in the same direction, and actual speed is hard to determine in a universe where everything is moving. But anyway you measure it, we are moving!”

And without vibrations. How amazing is this!

THE BOREDOM.

Life on this planet is so orderly and so predictable that it’s possible to live out our entire existence without ever looking up and considering the God who created all this or the eventual destination of Creation once we arrive at wherever it is we are heading at break-neck speed.

The sensation of speed is missing since space is mostly vacant. Well, there’s no atmosphere, we’ll put it like that, to cause friction. And there are no objects to zoom by and remind us that we are whizzing past at lightning speed.

We conveniently forget that we are living on a moving object. Ants on a golf ball.

One would think that to experience earthly life as boring would take some doing. But it requires very little effort. That is a tribute to the orderliness and steadiness of this planet. Our failure of look up and think of God is a compliment to the architecture and infrastructure of the earth He has given us.

It has its occasional upheavals in the way of volcanoes and earthquakes, its windstorms and tornadoes, hurricanes, dust storms, floods. But for the most part, they are the vast exceptions.

Life on Earth is so predictable that an entire profession has arisen of professionals devoted to telling us what the air will be like the next day and the next week and beyond. We call them meteorologists. Weather people. The fact that they keep their jobs at all is a compliment to the Creator.

THE VARIETY.

In Arizona, there is the deserts and the Grand Canyon. In Colorado, it’s Rocky Mountain peaks to die for. In California, it’s the coastline on the west, desert in the southeast, and mountains in every direction. Mississippi has its rolling hills, Alabama has its Appalachian mountains, Minnesota has its lakes, Louisiana has its swamps, and Florida has beaches, beaches, and more beaches.

And think of other parts of this globe–the Artic, the Antarctic, Australia. Africa. The depths of the ocean. Life in the jungle. Life in the Sahara, even.

I’m not an expert on these things, but it seems to me that the geography of our Moon is made up of one crater after another. Mars will have a mountain ridge here and craters there, but it seems to be pretty much the same in every direction.

Ah, but earth. Earth is clearly the gem of the universe.

After my first visit through Colorado, I looked for ways to express my delight. “God created Colorado on one of His better days,” I would tease. “The Lord said, ‘Let me show you what I can do when I really set my mind to it,’ and He gave us Colorado.”

It would appear that Earth is that handiwork to show what God did when He really set His mind to it.

Fisher Humphreys, theology writer and popular professor, says, “We know Heaven is going to be fascinating because earth is so interesting.” He adds, “Who but God would have thought of creating oysters and then putting them at the bottom of the sea?”

THE COLORS.

As far as I can tell, there was no inherent need for our world to come in technicolor. It seems to work just as well in black and white and various shades of gray. And yet, God gave us colors.

And what colors. Stand outside just after sundown and watch what the sky does with colors. One wishes he were an artist capable of capturing such glory. Photographers try and always come up short.

The colors of our universe seem to be one more indication of the glory and generosity of God. He did it because He could.

The colors delight us and make life so much richer. They also challenge us. Consider skin color, for instance, and the human conflict that has produced.

Good job, Lord.

Earth is something else.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

The Heavens are the heavens of God, but the earth He has given to the children of men. (Psalm 115:16)

Let’s take good care of this earth. There doesn’t seem to be another one waiting to replace it when we use it up.

Thank you, Father, for Earth, our dwelling place for this part of our existence. We are stunned by your power and wisdom, your design and benevolence. We are blessed by your generosity and awed by your might.

O, help us to be good stewards of this majestic land we call our home. May we conserve its resources and not squander its provisions.

We look forward to the time in Your Time when we shall be released from these mortal bodies and earth itself shall be restored to its glory. Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

Until then, Father, Thank you. Bless you. Good job.

5 thoughts on “Three a.m. and Wide Awake

  1. Thank you for this reminder of God’s power and majesty.

    The more I see of this beautiful planet, the more I see the hand of God at work in creation and the hand of man in its destruction. I have been particularly astounded this fall by the luminous colors in the autumn leaves especially on sunny days here in Charlotte and have more than once whispered a Thank You to God for such beauty and eyes that can see it.

    I agree … Colorado is incredible. But if you think God was on a roll when he created Colorado, you should see New Zealand! A breathtaking masterpiece.

  2. I love reading your blogs. Your writing has a wonderful voice that comes from only a close fellowship with God. But…I am sure that you meant to say “southwest” in line 1 Variety section. I have lived in southeast and now live in El Paso. I never saw a desert in the southeastern area of US. But I live in the middle of the desert now. Yes, God had a creative sense of humor when he made this area with its cold temps at night and hotter than ____ in the day. Wind blowing all the time and usually with dust. Yet we have the most unique blossoms on our cactus.

    God Bless You as you keep entertaining and inspiring us.

  3. Want to see how small we are? Consider this. This planet is 8000 miles in diameter. However, with the exception of high flying birds every living thing on this planet is living with a couple of hundred feet of the surface. Note that the top of a mountain or the top of a tall building is still the surface. Next time you take a flight someplace be sure to take a window seat. Look out the entire flight. Note the expanse of the earth and then remember where all the life is. Fairly humbling to my way of thinking.

  4. Dear pastor,

    I love your blog too. It’s humorous, inspiring and fresh! You write like a young person! (if i may beg your pardon). Words are such wonderful gift from God and i can’t imagine life without it. I’ve tried to express the wonder of God’s creation in my blog, and realise that there’s still so much to be said and wonder about!

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