Our son, Matt, is a sophomore in college now. He’s participating, as a matter of fact, in a program in Irian Jaya. It’s called “The Edge Adventure.” That’s a small, fairly-new program, and academically, it’s really quite rigorous. The students probably write more papers in this semester than they do if they were at home. But the papers are written out in longhand, and they’re written mostly by candlelight. Yet, most of the learning, as you might imagine, doesn’t happen in the classroom, but instead comes from living among “Stone-Age” people and being fully immersed in a totally different perspective.
Matt’s only been able to call home once in the three months, and that happened to be last Saturday. The first thing he mentioned was about the mail service. It is notoriously unreliable. Both Linda, my wife, and Laurie, his girlfriend, have sent him dozens, even scores of letters, but, for a time, Matt hadn’t gotten any mail for about five weeks. Realizing in advance that this is going to be the situation, Linda and Laurie numbered their letters sequentially so that Matt would know if he’s getting his mail, and if he’s getting it in a timely fashion. And Matt says he got Laurie’s letter number seven and then five weeks later he got her letter number 22. He didn’t know what was in letters eight through 21, but when he read letter number 22, he knew that everything was okay. See, the details could be filled in later.
This also strikes me as a picture of our lives here in the States. We’ve read the first seven letters. We know where we’ve been. But we don’t know yet what will be in letter number eight. Those things are the future. That’s the tomorrow, and some of the days ahead look very challenging, I think, for us.
Some of us worry about our kids. For example, how are they going to turn out? Some of us worry about college costs, and we hope desperately that Christ returns before we have to start paying for the university. Almost all of us worry about the future of medicine and the daunting challenges that face us there. But the good news is the Good News. God’s a postman. He’s already delivered letter number 22 to each of us in his own handwriting.
And this is what my letter said. He said, “Dick, you’ll be happy to know that it all turns out just fine.” God’s not making specific promises to us that life might not be tough in the interim, but He does say this: “You can trust me. You can trust my power. You can trust my care. It will all end just fine.” The sovereignty of God in the rest of our lives.
Perhaps by now some of you have seen this little piece of paper. We ran across it on the East Coast. I was speaking at a Christian conference center there, and I understand it circulated around the United States to a certain degree. But there’s surely some people here who haven’t seen it yet. And I want to share this with you because there’s more tonnage of importance per square millimeter in this than you can possibly imagine. And this is what it says:
“Good morning. This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help. So have a good day.”
Think about it. Memorize it. Say it every morning before you get out of bed.
I want to draw your attention to three passages of Scripture. These will be fairly familiar to you. You can turn to them, if you want, but I’ll kind of summarize them fairly quickly. The first is Psalm 37. I’ll give you segments of verses one through eight. It says:
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong. Trust in the Lord and do good. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in him and He will do this. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noon-day sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Do not fret when men succeed in their ways. Do not fret. It only leads to evil.”
Now three times in those eight verses it says, “Do not fret.” What does that mean when it says, “Do not fret?” It means, don’t fret. Matthew 6:34, it comes right after Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” 6:34 says, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Now what does that mean when it says, “Do not worry about tomorrow?” What it means is, don’t worry. Philippians 4:6, it says: “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” My question is, what does it mean when it says, “Don’t be anxious?” It means don’t be anxious.
Now we read those passages and we say, “Aren’t those comforting verses? Isn’t that wonderful of God to provide us that encouragement right at our point of need?” And we get up from our table, we walk out in the hall and we start worrying, and we start fretting, and we start being anxious. We all do it — 100 percent of the people in this room do it. I do it, too. And yet, the Scripture says, “Don’t. Trust me. Be still. Wait patiently for me. The reason you worry is you don’t know who I am. You just don’t see clearly enough yet.”
There’s a favorite verse of mine. It happens to be in 1 Corinthians 13. I don’t know how this gets slid into the “love chapter,” but it says, “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know, even as we also are known.”
What if we could go to the other side of eternity, beyond the line of eternity, and just sit in the presence of God for 10 minutes, just 10 minutes, and then come back here and finish out the rest of our lives? What would it change about the rest of your lives if you had 10 minutes to do that? It would change everything. The change would be total, and it would be complete.
Well, as a matter of fact, because Focus on the Family is so incredibly close to God, the Almighty agreed to throw in a door prize for this group — this gathering — just a once-in-eternity opportunity here. If you’ll look underneath your chairs, one of you has underneath there a 10-minute trip to heaven to spend that opportunity with God. As a matter of fact, somebody cheated. They checked their chair last night, and we already have a declared winner. His name is Joe. As a matter of fact, Joe’s up there right now, and I want to tell you what Joe’s going through.
See, here’s Joe sitting with God. And this is what he first says to God. “God, I’ve got 10 minutes here with you. Let me ask you this: Do you know everything?” And God says, “Do you doubt it?” Joe says, “Well, well, no, but how do you do it? Doesn’t it get all kind of mixed up in your head?” And God says, “I think you’re getting the two of us confused there, Joe. You do that a lot, you know? You really shouldn’t do that so much. Let me put it this way: Things get mixed up and chaotic in your head a lot, but not in mine. Joe, my car never runs out of gas. I’ve never been late for a plane. And when you try to balance the checkbook, every time you sit down to do it, I just can’t bear to watch. So I distract myself by counting backwards…to infinity.”
Joe says, “Could I see you answer some prayers?”
“I just did.”
“I just answered prayers.”
“Well, whose prayers did you answer?”
“Well, actually I answered 924,000 prayers just then. Half the time people don’t even know I’m doing it. I’m kind of tricky about some of this. A very high percentage of the prayers I answer are not even from adults. It’s the kids, you know? They’re the ones with the faith. When I answer their prayers, they usually see it right away.”
“Well, what percentage of prayers that you just answered right now were from kids?”
“Well, to be precise, 42.57688493005998729609432547…”
“That’s enough,” Joe says. “That’s enough.”
Joe says, “How many stars are there?” God says, “Joe, you only have 10 minutes.”
“Well, how many galaxies then?”
“Joe, you only have 10 minutes. But do you want to see me annihilate a galaxy?”
“Oh, sure, cool, that’d be great.”
“Well, you see that one way out there toward the edge of space? It hasn’t been discovered yet. Nobody will even miss it. I just made it because I like the way it sparkled. Watch this. There, you can’t see it now, right?”
“How’d you do that?”
“You don’t want to know. Ever heard of anti-matter?”
Joe says, “I’m a physician, you know.” God says, “Is that supposed to impress me? I’m a physician, too. You want to compare credentials? Success rates? Diagnostic accuracy? Pick a topic, any topic.”
Joe: “How much time do I have left?” God: “Just a few seconds. But of course, around here that costs me 50 trillion years, but in your case, it’s just a few seconds.”
Joe: “Do you watch me all the time?”
“Sure I do. Other people sometimes watch you, too. You’re really quite an entertaining fellow.”
Joe: “Medicine is getting kind of stressful these days.”
“Yeah, so I noticed.”
“What should I do about it?”
“Well, Joe, I’m glad you asked. One thing that would help a lot is if you were to stop using me as a last resort. Everything you need I’ve already provided. Trust me. Use my wisdom. Use my power. Pray. Joe, you really need to pray more. And love your patients. On your best day, I’ll give you a great day. And on your worst days, I’ll get you through it. I will always get you through it.”
“God, one last question. How do I get down from here?”
[Joe:]“Oh, I guess that was a silly question. Hi, Honey. You’ll never guess what just happened to me.”
[Joe's wife:] “What? You look sunburned. You’ve been golfing again?”
“Oh, no, no, it’s not golfing. Maybe you’d better sit down. I’ll tell you all about it, but first, I think we’d better pray.”
If you were Joe, how would you walk the rest of your life? Might I suggest to you that everything that you do, every attitude that you had, every thought, every opinion about people and about time and about eternity and about human effort would be changed? We can’t go to the other side and sit with God for 10 minutes, but we can know a lot more about him than we have previously settled for. And the best way, perhaps the only way, to go into an uncertain future is to trust in the sovereignty and the power and the majesty and the precision and the genius and the intimacy and the caring of an almighty God. No other approach will work. No other approach makes any sense whatsoever. And He says, “Put your hand in my hand and don’t let go, not even for a second.”
Let’s look at some things that we know in medicine and astronomy and in physics, about the sovereignty of God. Look at the sun. If you took a pin head and you heated the head of that pin to the temperature of the core of the sun, it would kill every person within a 1,000 miles. Did you hear that?
Now let me ask you this: Could Jesus swallow that pin? Could God swallow that pin? Yes. The answer to that question is yes. Now somebody that is that powerful, what does that tell you about your ability to trust him in terms of his ability to do things that we can’t even begin to imagine? Everything that you see out there in science and in astronomy and in cosmology or in quantum mechanics or in the human body or biology or chemistry or physics — God’s fingerprints are all over it. And He’s teaching us that we can trust him.
Let’s look at black holes. Consider God and black holes. All galaxies have black holes. Our Milky Way galaxy apparently has many of them. The number of black holes in the universe might even be larger than the number of visible stars. To get a feeling for how intense a black hole is, to make a star into a black hole, you’d have to collapse the radius of our sun from 450,000 miles down to two miles, so it could fit in Manhattan, okay? Now a sun that had that kind of density would weigh more per teaspoon than Mount Everest does. That’s what a black hole would be.
Now what is the sovereign God’s opinion of a black hole? This isn’t just an academic exercise. This teaches us about God, and you’d better listen because you’re going to need this God in your future. We all are going to need a God that has this kind of power, and we can trust it.
Is God afraid of black holes? You know, as you get closer to a black hole, you finally get to the event horizon — what is called the event horizon. If you step one inch further, then you’re gone. Nothing can escape once it’s entered the event horizon.
Does God sometimes stand on the event horizon and sort of taunt a black hole? I mean, what happens if He sort of slips over the edge a little bit? Who wins in that tug of war? Does God win, or does the black hole win? What’s the answer to that question? God wins. The answer to that question is God wins. There is nothing in the universe, there is nothing of created order that is more powerful than God.
Well, think of that. It is an amazing thing. I just have so much fun thinking about God and how He bullies the universe. I mean, He just does whatever He wants to do whenever He wants to do it. Now a God who’s that powerful, can He handle your problems? Does He even need your help?
Let’s look at numbers. What kind of mathematician is God? Do you know that the number of electrons that pass through a filament of an ordinary light bulb in a minute…did you get that? The number of electrons that pass through an ordinary filament of a light bulb in one minute equals the number of drops of water than flow over Niagara Falls in a century. Does God know how many electrons flow through a filament of a light bulb in one minute? He does. He counts them in his spare time. God has every…do you know there’s 10 to the 80th elementary particles — protons, neutrons, electrons — in the observable universe? And God has every one of them mapped, every nanosecond. He nicknames them in His spare time.
The talking number — they call the talking number — it’s the number of words spoken by humans since the dawn of time. Did God hear all of those? It’s 10 to the 16th. Did God hear all of those? Yes, He did. He’s got a record of them, except for the sins He forgot, or something, and then He forgot them.
The Coney Island number. Do you know what the Coney Island number is? It’s 10 to the 20th. It’s the number of grains of sand on the Coney Island beach —10 to the 20th. Does God know all those little grains of sand? Yes, He does. The Ice Age numbers — 10 to the 30th. That’s the number of snow crystals necessary to form the Ice Age. Does God do math at this level? Yes, He does.
I want to talk about the human body a little bit because my time is running out rapidly. The human body has 10,000 trillion trillion atoms. That’s greater than the number of stars in the universe. There are more than…a trillion of these atoms are replaced every one millionth of a second. Did you hear what I…every one millionth of a second, in your body more than one trillion atoms are replaced. Even though our bodies are indeed discrete units, we leak. Physically and metaphysically, we leak. In consequence, we share our physical existence with our neighbors, however remote.
What happened to the trillion trillion atoms in your body that turned over in the last one hour? In the last one hour a trillion trillion of your atoms turned over. What happened to those atoms? Look at your neighbor. That’s where they are. Your neighbor’s got them now. These atoms float off into space and then they roost in your neighbor for awhile — red, and yellow, black, and white. They are me and I am them. You might not like that, but it’s the truth of the matter. Through common breathing, shared sneezes, sloughed skin, the jet stream, flowing rivers, and a myriad of other mixing devices, God brings us together, constantly and continuously. I would not doubt that some of the atoms, some of the carbon atoms that resided in our bodies, in our childhood frames, are now doing their similar work within the body of a child in Mongolia. God has them all mapped. He knows where they all are. He follows them around.
Take a deep breath. Everybody take a deep breath. When you do that you just inhaled 150 million air molecules that Jesus breathed. I didn’t read this from a Christian book. I read it from a physics book. The math is very well worked out. See me afterwards. I can explain it to you. Take a deep breath again — 150 million air molecules that Jesus breathed. I choose to view this as Jesus doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on me all the time. My advice to you, if you want to do something you don’t want God to see you, you better hold your breath.
Every cell has a trillion atoms. Okay, you’ve got the little tiny atoms and then you’ve got the cell. Every cell has about a trillion atoms. Well, we have anywhere from 10 to 100 trillion cells in the human body. And you guessed it. We’re making over a trillion cells every day. The lining of your GI tract turns over about every two days, faster if you eat Mexican food. The lining of our skin turns over every two to four weeks, and I read recently that the average human being sloughs like 40 pounds of skin in a lifetime. And that’s why old sofas weigh so much.
Red blood cells. You make 2-to-10 million red blood cells every second. If you take your red blood cells out and line them side by side, they’d go round the earth at the equator four times. You think God paused when He made the red blood cell? I think He did, knowing that His son would have to shed this for the remission of our sins. I did it to Him. What do you think about that? I don’t want to overly spiritualize that, but does one red blood cell, like, have my name on it? What’s the divine value of one red blood cell? Is that sufficient to cover my sin? I think it is. This is the God that we serve.
And this God is a capable God. And this is the kind of God who is not only powerful, He is not only precise, He is not only a mathematician…The level of precision in a created order is 10 to the 10th to the 127th. That’s impossible. There are no numbers like that — 10 to the 10th to the 127th. This is the God that we serve.
Why don’t we trust Him more? Why don’t we pray more? Why do we balance the whole thing on our shoulders? We’re not going to get away with that in the future. He is so gracious. He is so patient. He is so intimate. He is so personal. He created us because He loves us, because He wants a relationship with us, and because He wants his glory to be seen.
I think the most powerful part about this talk was the dialogue between Joe and God. And Dr. Richard Swenson poses a very powerful question: “If you were Joe, how would you walk the rest of your life? We can’t go to the other side and sit with God for 10 minutes, but we can know more about him than we have previously settled for. And the best way, perhaps the only way, to go into an uncertain future is to trust in the sovereignty and the power of the majesty of the almighty God.”