In the fictional universe housing the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (written by Douglas Adams), there is a machine called the Total Perspective Vortex. Originally built (per the fictional universe) to provide beings a comparison of themselves to the infinity of creation, it became a torture device to (effectively) destroy a being’s mind.
It sounds a little extreme, except that much of the religions over the years are concerned with is much about finding our place in the universe.
The (Roman Catholic) Church attacked Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei for proposing that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than the sun (and the other planets) revolving around the earth. While the majority of the (entire Christian) Church now believes Galileo Galilei, we need to recognize that Galileo Galilei’s hypothesis was, for that era and theological framework, similar in effect to the Total Perspective Vortex.
On the other hand, in contemporary fiction and philosophy, there is a deep concern regarding the Butterfly Effect. This is the theory that if time travel were possible, a person going back in time could catastrophically affect the timeline (including the era from which the time traveler came). Many people have bought into this concept, and yet disparage the one small thing they do today.
For me one of the most peaceful things is to stare at the night sky at the stars (most effective away from city light pollution). It brings peace to my soul and heart. It also guides me to have a better perspective of myself. I am tiny compared to the entire of Creation. I am only 1 person among over 8 billion people walking the earth at this moment.
For you, this may be disquieting. We have a need to be significant, but so much around us shows how insignificant we are.
Lord, what are human beings, that you should care about them, or mortal man, that you should think about him?Psalm 144:3 (ISV)
God cares about us. No matter how insignificant we believe or are told we are, God cares for and thinks about we humans. In comparison to the infiniteness of God, we are not even microscopic, yet God loves us.
If we derive our significance from others, we are often emotionally and spiritually doomed. If we derive our significance from God, however, that is a solid foundation on which to place our worth and identity.
There is, though, the danger of arrogance. “I’m loved by God, so I can do…” We are all guilty of this to some degree.
Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land!Ezekiel 19:13 (ISV)
When we get too full of ourselves, or when we look too much to others, we can be in the desert of faith and relationship with God. It’s not that God ceases to care, quite the contrary. We can be chasing after things that we think will water and feed us, but we end up in a desert, where receive the bare minimum to live.
The desert experience isn’t necessarily bad, ultimately. It can teach what is really important if we let it. On the other hand, far too many people stubbornly refuse to move from the desert, and so end up dry and withered. That doesn’t have to be the end.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.1 Peter 2:10 (ISV)
God is merciful. Yes, we’ve done stuff that doesn’t please God. We could even say that because we are fallible and fragile creatures, we will never measure up to God’s holiness and love. God is merciful.
To whom are you significant? Why?
How do you think significance and mercy are related?
Share with someone what makes them significant to you.
God, it is often so hard to see my significance to you. Help me to be understand my significance to you, and help me focus on you defining my significance, rather than leaving it to others. Amen.