Pluto is far away. The New Horizons space probe left Earth nine years ago and has traveled some three billion miles at a speed of about 36,000 miles per hour. It takes about four and a half hours for radio signals from the probe to get back to earth. That is a long way away, but in comparison to the size of the universe, it's not very far at all.
For instance, the nearest star to our solar system is over four light years away. In other words, it takes light four years to travel from the nearest star to earth. That translates into more than 25 trillion miles. Comparatively, that makes Pluto right next door. If the distance to the nearest star is compared to a road trip from New York City to Los Angeles (approximately 2800 miles), Pluto would be only 1/3 of a mile into the trip! It took New Horizons nine years to get to Pluto. At the same speed it would take the probe 75,600 years to get to the nearest star. And that's the nearest star!
New Horizons has turned my eye back to the sky and whenever I do that I feel a sense of awe, and I am not alone. Scripture urges us to look beyond our ten foot ceilings and artificial light and stare in wonder at the universe. And when we do we echo the Psalms:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.
Creation has always inspired awe and worship, not arrogance and pride, and so should this recent jaunt to Pluto.
The great physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton is regarded as one of mankind's most brilliant minds. Yet, as much as he discovered he realized that his knowledge was practically immeasurable compared to the vastness of truth. He once said, “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
I appreciate all the science and technology that has allowed mankind to search space, but let's not think we have this all figured out. Mankind has only scratched the surface. So as we high-five our accomplishments let's also bend our knee in awe of the vastness of creation. If, as our Bible claims, God created the heavens and the earth what a God He must be!
Good to see you Pluto! Welcome to the chorus of planets, moons, and stars that burst forth in praise of the One who spoke it all into existence.