The exploration of space has always been fascinating to me. When I was in the eighth grade, America was in what was called “the space race.” In April of 1961, Russia won the race by shoehorning a man named Yuri Gagarin into a small capsule and orbiting the earth for just under an hour and a half.
But America wasn’t far behind. The next month we sent Alan Shepard into space . . . for exactly 15 minutes. Millions of people were fixed onto their television screens. Watching. Anxious. Nervous. (I was all of these.)
So, given the kind of attention this and all the other space travel received when I was a teenager, it’s been impossible to ignore it as an adult. In high school, right in the middle of our school day, our principal would interrupt whatever was going on and play the live radio broadcast of “We have lift off,” “Houston, this is Colonel Glenn,” or “We can see the parachute over the Atlantic.” The words held my classmates and me spellbound.
During the summer of 1969, my parents and I—along with 530 million others around the world—watched Neil Armstrong step off the ladder of the lunar module and say, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
In July 2011, I was hustling through the airport to my mid-morning flight. Since the airlines and I have an agreement—if they’re ready to leave, and I’m not there, they go ahead without me—and since I was running a little late, my pace down the concourse was quick. I heard the unmistakable conversation between a pilot and an air traffic controller coming from one of the television monitors hanging from the ceiling. Glancing at the television, I saw that the mighty space shuttle Atlantis was landing at the Kennedy Space Center. The eighty-five ton behemoth glided toward the runway as though it were a yellow maple leaf softly landing on my lawn.
I couldn’t help myself. Late or not, I had to stop and watch. The touchdown was flawless. Puffs of white smoke burst from the tires as they greeted terra firma. A huge parachute was deployed, bringing the craft safely to a stop. The man in Houston, in the same kind of steady tone our local weatherman uses when he’s describing a low-pressure area over North Dakota, gave a quick rundown: “Atlantis has successfully completed her thirteen-day mission, encircling the earth 4,848 times and covering over 126 million miles. Welcome home, Atlantis.”
Goosebumps covered my forearms. What a miracle, I whispered.
Glancing around the waiting area, I saw a number of people—a businessman snapping open a fresh USA Today, a young family trying to keep their youngster close-by, a few college students gazing at their smartphones. And these folks all had something in common. Not one of them . . . not even the child . . . was paying the least bit of attention to the news. The incredible phenomenon of science, technology, and man’s ingenuity didn’t even earn a lifted head or raised eye.
A trace of anger welled up inside me. Unbelievable, I whispered.
Unfortunately, every time I read Psalm 8, it dawns on me that I’m as guilty as those people in the waiting area at gate B-6. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name . . .” . . . can you believe the Cubs won again? “When I consider your heavens . . . ” . . . c’mon over here, honey, I don’t want you to get lost in this airport. “The moon and the stars which you have set in place.” . . . RU meeting me at the airport? Lots of luv. UR 2QT. LOL.
I have grown so accustomed to God’s miraculous handiwork that it no longer overwhelms me. In fact, sometimes I don’t even bother to look up. But reading this psalm is like the familiar cadence of an astronaut checking in with Houston. I cannot help myself. I am almost forced to stop, look up, and when I see what’s going on, those same chills cover my arms.
Are you tired of the headlines, the daily chores of fatherhood, and the rigors of study? Look up. Remember who this is you’re worshipping. Be awed by His creation. Recall what He’s done. Rest in His love for you today and in His promise for tomorrow. How could you and I ever get accustomed to this?
Bring on those old goosebumps again.