Blaze of Glory
Since it’s summer and hot and bright and it’s staying light outside for a wee longer than the rest of the year, it may be a good time to tell you a little something about the sun. Most of us take that great ball of fire for granted – we see it nearly every day of our lives. We may miss it when it rains and badmouth it when we’re in the middle of a heatwave, but most of the time it’s "just there."
But did you know that the sun reveals the personality of our Lord? Like everything else in this big beautiful universe, the characteristics of the sun reveal the detailed care and concern of a loving Creator toward his creatures. So, how can a big bag o’ gas tell us anything about God? Let me give you few examples of what I mean...
OOOH, PRETTY YELLOW!
The sun is that yellow color because yellow’s the only color of star that can support life. Blue stars, which are incredibly massive, are way too energetic and live out their lives too quickly and violently for us to live comfortably (if at all) under their splendor. Red stars, on the opposite end of the spectrum, are way too cool and lack substantial energy to do a planet any good. Yellow stars, like our sun, pour out just the right amount of energy and live just long enough for a planet full of life such as ours to exist. Our sun is the only color it can be for us to survive.
SO FAR AWAY
We are located 93 million miles away from the sun on average. Pretty far, eh? But did you know that if Earth were just a million miles closer on average than it is now, we would be a dead planet? Long ago Earth would have fallen victim to a runaway greenhouse effect like the one that now devastates poor Venus, our nearest neighbor closer to the sun. Temperatures on Venus are incredibly hot (lead can melt there!) and totally unsuited for life. On the other hand, if we averaged just about a million miles farther away from the sun than now, we would be a frozen planet like Mars. Check inside your freezer for complex life. See any? Try living in a meat locker for awhile and imagine how humanity might fare in a place like that. That happy sun in the sky is exactly where it has to be for us to survive here and live comfortably.
MIDLIFE? NO CRISIS!
Our star is right in the middle of its life. It is middle-aged, so to speak, but thankfully it has no mid-life crisis as humans often do. When it was a young star, the sun was unstable and unpredictable (In this case, I guess it is rather human-like). Its fluctuating luminosity (hotter, cooler, hotter, cooler, etc.) would have meant curtains for humans. The same fate awaits life when that great orb in the sky gets into old age. Then, during what astronomers call its "red giant phase," it will expand out to beyond Earth, almost to Mars. Living inside a star can’t be that much fun, even if we could afford an air conditioner the size of Detroit. The oceans will boil away and the surface will become molten – not exactly a vacation spot. Our sun’s present age allows life to thrive on this small, rocky planet.
BACHELOR No. 1
Yes, our Sun is a lonely bachelor star. It has no companion stars as most stars out in deep space do. (It may be alone, but is it really lonely? Of course not, it’s only a ball of gas! Sheesh!) Why is its bachelor status good for us? Well, if it had a companion (or two or three), our planet probably wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t be here, for sure. A little planet pulled and tugged by the competing gravity of other stars isn’t likely to hold together well. Even if it did maintain its integrity (science lingo for hold together), our orbit would mean the elimination of life. That’s because the other stars would cause our orbit to be so eccentric (science lingo for wacky) that some of the time we would be fatally close to the sun (ouch, hot!!), other times we’d be fatally far (brrrr, frozen!). We would not have the nearly circular orbit we have now and which we need. We would also not be here to talk about it. This next question seems ludicrous, but what if, on the other hand, we had no star rather than one? Of course there would not be enough radiation to support any life, let alone human. One sun is necessary – that’s exactly what we got.
So what do four characteristics about our sun tell us about our God? Well, for Christians, they are just four more reasons to rejoice in a God Who perfectly and marvelously created this temporary home of ours. For nonChristians, my prayer is that maybe your eyes will start to see the perfection of design we have in this universe. If you can begin to see that, even with only the four characteristics about our sun above, you are on the right road.
But here is what is more amazing. There aren’t just four interesting, finely-tuned requirements for life in our universe which point to a loving Creator – there are more than a hundred! (And each year scientists discover more and more facts about our universe, our galaxy, our sun, and our planet.) Tweak any of those 100+ requirements a little one way or the other and we have no life. This place ain’t no accident, friend. All of those characteristics, and the dozens yet to be discovered, point to One who lovingly and meticulously created, crafted, and shaped the worlds around us – the real S-O-N Who gives light and life to all.
Now if He spent that much time and effort making a nice home for us, and if this home is only temporary, how much more must He care about you for whom this home was made, you who were created an eternal being in His image, you for whom He died!
In future articles we’ll discuss more of these groovy and oft-overlooked tidbits that point to the God of the Bible as the Creator of the universe. For now, give thanks for that enormous, perfectly placed, middle-aged, single yellow sphere of hydrogen and helium. It is one of many perfect gifts from the Perfect Giver.