The Blue Marble & Hurricane Harvey

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Providence

(Excerpt from teaching and training classes, used also in pastoral counseling and prison ministry)

If the Lord had not been on our side…the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away….Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:1-4,8)

This was first posted in October 2017 as people in Houston were recovering from Hurricane Harvey. It is still relevant as Christians face other troubles and griefs. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

A Lesson from Outer Space

“The Blue Marble” is a photograph of Earth taken in 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, 28,000 miles from Earth. It is one of the most reproduced images in history. Pastor Jacob Eppinga (1917-2008) kept a picture of that photo on his study wall to remind him of Christ’s loving creation and care for us on His planet. The photo reminds me of Acts 17:24-28:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth….He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man (Adam) He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth. And He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being….We are His offspring.

The photo triggers awe and wonder when we remember the Lord who created us and our planet. Sadly humans have spoiled Jesus’ perfect world with our sinfulness, but graciously God still cares about us individually, when we sit, rise, walk, and lie down. The Lord knows all that we think, say, and do every day. Christ knows about our suffering from natural disasters, from our own sin, and from sin against us by Satan and other people.

God’s Faithful Care for Us

Pastor Eppinga rummaged through his boyhood toys and found “Old Bluey,” a glass marble that was nicked and chipped and resembled the astronaut’s photo. He began to carry the marble in his pocket. Soon Eppinga used Old Bluey to show and tell a children’s lesson at church. He reminded them how Jesus holds our world in His hands and never drops it. We lose and forget glass marbles, but Christ never misplaces us or fails to remember us. Eppinga taught how God’s perfect world is now chipped, damaged, decaying, flawed, and frustrated by human sin (Rom 8:18-22), but the Lord will return soon to renew it. Christ says: “See, I will re-create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17) Revelation chapters 21-22 tell us more details.

This truths are deep, so I often use this song with children and adults:

God’s got you and He’s got me in His hands;
He’s got our brothers and our sisters in His hands;
He’s got all of His creation in His hands;
He’s got His whole world in His hands.

That’s what the whole Bible is about!

Jesus’ Love for Us Never Fails

Eppinga was asked to repeat the lesson for other groups. He also used it in witnessing to point people to Christ our only Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. God so loves the world and the people He made, that He not only holds us up, but God gave Jesus, His only Son, to live and die and rise and pray for us, so that whoever trusts in Christ will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The Lord who is wise, strong, and loving enough to create us and His world we live, in is also wise, strong, and loving enough to save us and carry us through this life and into the world to come.

Christ is our God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.

That was true before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey and it’s true whatever troubles we face. Scripture says: “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.” (Psalm 29:10) So let us praise Jesus and trust Him forever and forever. Amen!

You can also read a longer and updated version of this article. The Blue Marble Revisited and Peace in Christ