Have you ever seen a sunset so beautiful that you hoped it would never end? Have you been startled by a falling star streaking like a bullet in the night sky? Have you seen the northern lights shimmering off a Canadian lake? I've experienced many such moments that had me gasping for a reality check. Who am I in the vastness of the universe?
I've been addicted to adventure and challenge most of my life, whether it's skydiving, skiing, scuba diving or biking down a long, steep hill. But as I get older, I'm growing more cautious. Life's daily patterns of living, working, sleeping and existing shield us from an amazing fact: Life is precious! Life is fragile and life, as we know it, will end. It is appointed for all people to die at some point (Hebrews 9:27). How many more breaths will I breathe in and blow out?
What about you? Will you live to accomplish all that you dream? When you lie down to breathe your last, will your life have been worth living? These are heavy questions, but ones all of us must ponder eventually.
Last Breath: The Limits of Adventure
Recently I read with fascination a book by Peter Stark titled Last Breath: The Limits of Adventure (2001). The author describes adventure junkies who push the limits of their sports, often coming too close to the edge only to realize too late that life is very delicate.
But life is extraordinarily precious and delicate in another way totally unrelated to any risky sports or hobbies we may be involved in—and that is by virtue of the relatively tiny speck of dirt we occupy on a small blue planet suspended in the unimaginable vastness of space.
Speaking of our tiny bubble in which life can exist, Mr. Stark writes: "If you set the small belt that offers the precise conditions necessary for human life against all the rest of the planet—against all the earth's surface that is desert and ice, rock and ocean—you realize exactly how limited our life-sustaining environment actually is. More important, you realize how simple it is to step beyond it, how easily we can break through the thin web of life that supports the delicate human organism.
"And if you set that band of life against the enormity of the solar system, or of the Milky Way galaxy, or of the unknown reaches of the universe, we as a species occupy a niche far smaller than a tiny tuft of wildflowers sheltered by a small boulder atop an otherwise barren mountain peak that harbors in that single tuft the only life on an entire planet of barren mountain peaks.
"This is what, at some level, science and religion both are trying to tell us—how infinitesimally small the scale of human life is against the scale of the cosmos . . ." (p. 5).
The biblical character Job, when his comfortable and blessed life was disrupted, saw the fragility of his life. He asked, "What strength do I have, that I should hope? And what is my end, that I should prolong my life?" (Job 6:11). Answering these questions is about as important a task as anyone can attempt.
Benjamin Wiker, in a 2001 article titled "The Privilege of Life on Earth," commented: "Do you think that our Earth is an ordinary planet? Do you think that we have a 'commonplace' sun, and live in a run-of-the-mill solar system, in an unremarkable galaxy? If so, think again, advises astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez. Our sun, our solar system, and our galaxy are quite extraordinary—so extraordinary, he contends, that they must have had an Intelligent Designer. This, he emphasizes, is a statement based not on religious faith, but on the latest findings of astrophysics . . .
"Recent advances in science are demonstrating that life demands very particular conditions which are quite difficult to meet. In fact, these conditions must be met not only on a planet, but in the solar system and galaxy which support it.
"Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, a fellow of the Discovery Institute—the Seattle-based think tank on Intelligent Design—is one of the leading researchers in this area. With Discovery Institute fellow Jay Richards, he is currently working on a book which argues not only that Earth was designed for complex, intelligent life, but that the position of the Earth makes it the best observation point from which intelligent inhabitants might view the universe. 'What better mandate could we have for the scientific enterprise than to discover that the universe is set up for it?' he asks" (www.arn.org/docs2/news/privelegedearth112001.htm). Since this was written, the book by Guillermo and Richards has been published. Called The Privileged Planet, it has also been made into an excellent DVD production.
The Bible makes it clear that God is working in the lives of human beings, made in His image, to offer the gift of eternal life. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27).
Eternity in their hearts
Wise King Solomon went on to say that God "has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That is to say, no one can figure it out with his imagination alone. God must reveal these amazing truths to us. And yes, the truth is more remarkable than fiction.
The Bible continues to bedazzle us: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:1-2).
It is clear that we are unique in our galaxy and we are being sustained in a narrow band of life forces. Considering the fragility of life, one would suspect the questions waiting to be asked are "Why am I here?" and "What is my destiny?" For answers to these questions, request our free booklet What Is Your Destiny? You may request, download or read it online at www.gnmagazine.org/booklets.
Life is more than just the physical. Jesus Christ said: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25).
Indeed it is! Life is a precious journey where we are privileged to learn of God and His amazing plan for mankind. While you have breath and imagination, use your fleeting years to reflect on life—life that is enjoyable, challenging and eternal. That gift is promised to those who learn to think vertically. VT