The Miracle of Life

By Francis Frangipane

Without fail, as long as we live in this world, pressures and heartaches will hunt the human soul, often springing upon us when we least expect them. Jesus, too, faced conflicts, but He did so from the perspective of one who lived in the fullness of God's Presence. For all He endured of spiritual warfare or frustration with His disciples or attacks from the Pharisees, His spirit always was full of life in abundance.

How did Jesus obtain such inner strength? We read that He "would often slip away to the wilderness and pray" (Lk 5:16) and, again, that He would climb to a favorite mountain and spend "the whole night in prayer" (Lk 6:12). We know He prayed, but His time alone with God was most often spent in the beauty of God's creation in the wilderness or the mountains. During His nights in prayer, I don't picture Jesus spending the entire time on His knees; rather, I think that, at least for a while, He laid back, put His hands beneath His head and then, while gazing at the stars, talked to His Father.

Consider also that Jesus "often met [in the Garden of Gethsemane] with His disciples" (Jn 18:1-2). The fact that Jesus often met in a garden, tells us something about the Son of God. I believe Jesus esteemed the miracle of life itself. Jesus countered the pressures of life with the fullness of life. From His words we see that He valued the very miracle of life itself. "Is not life more than food?" He asked. Jesus would not ask us to consider the lilies and the birds of the air had He Himself not first considered them: there were miracles and messages from God everywhere.

Jesus distanced Himself from life's pressures and conflicts by spending time with the Father. Thus, He possessed God's perspective on everything. On the other hand, we are so ingested into the swarm of life's treasures and terrors that we have no objective view of the miracle of life itself.

What is Life?
Jesus knew of His pre-incarnate existence with the Father. He said, "Before Abraham was born, I am" (Jn 8:58), and that He had "proceeded forth and [had] come from God" (Jn 8:42). As the Word made flesh, He knew life wasn't created randomly or via evolution, but life was a miracle of the greatest proportions. Thus, even in the fallen state of this creation, the sky still declared the glory of God and the earth His handiwork.

It was in this regard that I felt the Holy Spirit opening for me a sense of awe concerning the miracle of life itself. I know there are terrors and traumas in our world, but God does not tell us to disengage with Him so we can concentrate on problems. So, have you considered the first of God's wonders, the miracle of life? I am talking about the actual raw material, the substance, of the thing we call life? What is this invisible force which flows through us and animates our very existence?

Beloved, how difficult it is to peer into life's properties and ponder its traits! We have no revelation concerning the fabric of life itself. We fail to appreciate the singular beauty of this living pearl, this teardrop from the eye of God, as it lives and breathes in the dark, empty universe around us.

A View From The Stars
Let me speak of life from a different angle. In 1968 a unique opportunity was granted humanity. For the first time, we were given a chance to step outside of the womb of our self-absorption and look at life on earth with the eyes of the universe. The day was Christmas Eve. It was the first lunar voyage of the Apollo 8 crew. From the surface of the moon they gazed upon the earth. The following is NASA's account of that awesome day.

First, they showed the half Earth across a stark lunar landscape. Then, from the other unfogged window, they tracked the bleak surface of the Moon. "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth," said Lovell. The pictures aroused great wonder, with an Estimated half billion people vicariously exploring what no man had ever seen before.

"For all the people on Earth," said Anders, "the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you." He paused a moment and then began reading: "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth."

After four verses of Genesis, Lovell took up the reading: "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night."

At the end of the eighth verse Borman picked up the familiar words: "And God said, Let the waters under the Heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good."

The commander added: "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."

It was a time of rare emotion. The mixture of the season, the immortal words, the ancient Moon, and the new technology made for an extraordinarily effective setting.

"At some point in the history of the world," editorialized The Washington Post, "someone may have read the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis under conditions that gave them greater meaning than they had on Christmas Eve. But it seems unlikely. This Christmas will always be remembered as the lunar one."

The New York Times, which called Apollo 8 "the most fantastic voyage of all times," said on December 26: "There was more than narrow religious significance in the emotional high point of their fantastic odyssey."

The Living Jewel
The view of the earth experienced by the astronauts was certainly more than "a narrow religious" perspective. But as they gazed upon the blue oceans, the shades of brown and deep greens of our beautiful planet, and the array of glorious clouds, their thoughts ascended beyond astronomical theories and conjecture into a wide and wonderful sense of awe. It is this perspective that we must claim for ourselves. The awe of being alive, of having choices, of knowing and feeling and discovering the unfolding glories of God's great love -- that is why we were created. We are not here just to exist, but to experience life in its highest forms and greatest abundance.

The astronauts' perspective came from their position in outer space; we must gain our perspective as Jesus did, by ascending into God. Not from a cockpit, but from the lap of the Almighty, let us view our world from His eyes and let us discover anew the miracle of His creation.

Remember, the astronauts observed Planet Earth swirling in the universe, hanging upon nothing. They looked upon a planet, so precisely distanced from the sun so as to sustain life. (If Earth's orbital path curved a mere eighth of an inch closer to the sun for every 27 miles, our oceans would boil; one-tenth of an inch farther away from the sun along that same curve and our water would freeze).

For all the fun and fantasy our science fiction writers have provided, they have also done us a great disservice. They have convinced us that the universe is teeming with civilizations, that life itself is a normal condition among the stars. Yet, this idea that we are merely one of many has caused us to devalue the absolute rarity of life on a universal scale.

Science fiction inspired us to believe there was life on Venus. But we have discovered the temperature of Venus is 800 decrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead; Venus' equatorial winds blow a constant 220 mph. We expected to find life on Mars. But Mars has almost no atmosphere. Its temperature drops to an unbelievably frigid minus 130 degrees at night. It is a barren, utterly dead planet. There is, in fact, no life on any of the planets in our solar system. For all the interesting possibilities our science fiction writers have put before us, their ideas are not science; their stories remain fiction.

My objective is not to debate whether there exists life elsewhere, but to esteem the miracle of life, the extreme rarity, that exists here. Consider: Our sun is 93 million miles from earth. The next closest star - Proxima Centauri - is nearly 268,000 times farther away. Science has scanned our nearest stars and the closest star with a planet outside our solar system is Vega, which is 25 light years (14,061,600,000,000 miles!). I am trying to show how rare life is. Picture a sphere over 28 quadrillion miles in diameter. For 14 quadrillion miles from its center in every direction, only one place has life: a bluish pinprick, Earth.

For all our wishful thinking, our Star Treks and Star Wars, our probing the universe has yet to find life anywhere else. Scientifically speaking, as best as we know, God put life only here.

I am not trying to turn us into New Agers, but people who truly follow the life pattern of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught multitudes next to lakes and alongside rivers; He loved bringing His disciples to mountain tops and gardens. Certainly, He spent His time in cities as well, but as He valued and enjoyed the miracle of life, so must we. For all the terror in our world, in spite of the pressures and conflicts that seek to arrest our attention, we must discover, and then learn to enjoy, the miracle of life that God has given us.