Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Confidence learned through suns and soccer balls.

I wondered last Saturday if any other missionaries use WolfRam Alpha to do their work. If they do, they're probably not asking it if the sun were the size of a soccer ball, how far away Neptune would be.

How the heck is that mission work?

Glad you asked.

In the past few months, the TEN3 curriculum department has decided we need to start writing BHLM materials ourselves. We ultimately want it to be owned and managed by Africans, so we were hoping most of it would be written by African educators. But thus far the unusualness of the program, our inability to pay writers, and severe difficulties keeping up communication with Africa have severely limited progress. So, we've decided that George, Anthony and I will write as much as we can, sending it to African volunteers for review, in hopes that as we students and teachers who go through our CTO catch the vision for transformational education (and communication with Africa improves), we will be able to give more and more of the work to God's people in Africa. We're also hoping to get a grant to have a long "writers retreat" in 2014 to focus on getting the BHLM done. (If you're confused by my acronyms, see my FAQ page.)

So, I decided to work on writing the topic of confidence. That is an important area to me because America has messed it up so much. Our schools and psychologists promote this hollow "self-esteem" concept that cannot give security and confidence, because it's based on self. Confidence comes from knowing God's love for us, and the fact that God wants us to serve Him, feeble as we are. I was using Psalm 139 and Nehemiah 1:9 to explain how intensely and constantly God cares for us. Science actually helps me put those passages in perspective, because when you really think about how big "the heavens" are, how hopelessly lost one could be in them, it's amazing to realize that God has promised that wherever we are, He will guide us. So, I used WolfRam Alpha to look up if the sun were the size of a soccer ball, how far away Neptune would be. The answer is 711 meters, or about 1/2 mile! Imagining being on a little planet in that size solar system already makes me feel small. And then to think that the nearest star is 4.4 light years away, that there are over 200 billion stars in our galaxy, each of which could have a solar system as big as ours, and then that there are around 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe, shows us that we are just in a tiny speck in a solitary star's tiny space, in a tiny corner of the universe. And those verses tell us that if we were lost in the farthest reaches of the heavens, from there God would still be with us and bring us where He desires us. Now that's some blessed assurance.