What astronauts put on first (and other lessons from outer space)

psalm 104

In one corner of the exhibit, a crowd gathered around the volunteer standing next to the space toilet and explaining how astronauts go to the bathroom in zero gravity.

A few steps away, an older volunteer stood next to a space suit holding up pieces of astronaut gear.  Every time a new group walked over to him, he started into his speech: “Here is the one thing astronauts put on first” as he holds up a diaper.

Kids wrinkled up their noses and giggled with embarrassment.

The museum guides at the National Air & Space Museum sure know how to attract a crowd.  Of course, once they have your attention, they explain more than bathroom mechanics in outer space.

My youngest daughter, as she puts it, “Loves space. I loves everything about space.”

So, for her sixth birthday, we made the trip to the museum to celebrate.

We wandered through exhibits about planets, peered through telescopes and watched videos of shuttle launches.

It’s a humbling experience to stand in front of an exhibit that plots our point on planet earth and then earth in the solar system in the galaxy in the universe.

A week before, I had read an online article about an upcoming meteor shower, how if you stayed up until about midnight on one particular night, you could see shooting stars all across the night sky.

I’ve never seen a shooting star in my life.

So, I dared to stay awake and then dragged a fleece blanket and a small pillow out to my deck and watched.

And waited…..

I saw at least five airplanes, one shooting star and one other maybe-shooting star out of the corner of my eye.

You can’t sit still in the quiet of midnight watching the night sky and not be struck by the vastness of it all and the smallness of you.

In a world of social media that too often feels so noisy and all about us, how powerful to see it’s really all about Him.

Then there’s clicking through the images that New Horizons sent back of Pluto.  It took nine years for this spacecraft to make it out there and the first images of the flyby made it to us in July 2015.

I sat at my kitchen table and yelled for my kids to come over to see this incredible outline of a heart on Pluto’s surface.

“Come check this out!” I told them.

I felt incredibly vindicated when I saw that astronomers themselves are indeed calling it Pluto’s “heart” (so I’m not just crazy and making things up).

Seeing the impression of a heart so beautifully etched on the side of a distant dwarf planet expands your vision a bit.

What a great, grand universe.

What a great, marvelous God.

How detailed He is.  How artistic.  How creative and powerful.

How He must have chuckled when the first images of Pluto’s heart spot finally made it back to little ol’ us.

He engraved these details and all this beauty on the most distant reaches of the world and the universe.

Then, like an excited parent, He waited as we hunted for the treasure, made the discovery and finally tore off the wrapping paper of this long-planned gift.

And to think that this God of greatness is mindful of us, loves us, listens to us and tends to us.

No wonder the Psalmist wrote:

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!
(Psalm 34:3 ESV).

Magnify Him.

My thoughts default to the microscope at the museum, how it magnifies the tiniest specks of detail so that we can see the microscopic with our limited human eyes.

I think of the magnifying glass my kids use to blow up our faces to huge distorted proportions and how they laugh at our nose and eyes out of proportion.

We usually magnify to make the small bigger.

But that’s not what magnify means in this Psalm.  We don’t take a small God and make Him bigger.

As Louie Giglio says in Passion:

There’s telescopic magnification and microscope magnification, and it’s blasphemy to magnify God like a microscope…But a telescope puts its lens on unimaginable expanses of greatness and tries simply to help them look more like what they are. That’s what a telescope is for.

Shining our telescope of faith on God doesn’t make Him bigger than He is, it helps us see how big He really is.

Half an hour staring into a night sky, a day walking the exhibit of a space museum, a few minutes clicking through images of a distant dwarf planet, and I’m saying like the Psalmist:

Oh, magnify the Lord with me!


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King


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