The Blue Marble & Hurricane Harvey

Bob Roane Jesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Providence

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

This was written in September, but is posted now because people are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and from other personal disasters.

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 the astronaut’s 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 and does not live in temples built by human hands. He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, 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 made us and our planet. Sadly humans spoil 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 Hurricane Harvey, from our own sin, and from sin against 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 to renew it soon. 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 doctrine is deep, so I might have used song with the children at this point in the lesson: 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.

Eppinga was asked to repeat the lesson for other groups and for a memorial service. He 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 in the world to come.

Jesus 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’s true before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey and whatever disasters we face. So let us praise the Lord forever and forever. Amen!