“Do you know what would happen if the world suddenly stopped spinning?” I asked my kids during our morning Bible time. My 12-year-old consulted one of her favorite books What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.1 If the earth and all terrestrial objects stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity, almost everyone would die immediately. If you weren’t swept away by the thousand-mile-per-hour winds, you’d certainly be pulverized by the thousand-mile-per-hour impact of all the debris flying about. You would be safe for a time if you were deep underground or in a polar research station (since the strongest winds would be nearest the equator), but not for long. The wind would eventually stop by way of friction with the earth’s surface, but that would heat the air and atomize the surface of the ocean, resulting, among many other phenomena, in massive global thunderstorms. After that, for 6 months one side of the earth would bake in the heat of the sun and the other would freeze since the sun would no longer rise and set once per day, but only once a year. Eventually, the moon would get us spinning again, but “us” would be long gone.
Now that I had their attention, we read Psalm 104–in which we have 35 verses praising the Lord for his power, control, and care over his creation:
“He set the earth on its foundations so that it should never be moved…The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers…You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth…The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God…There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it…When you hide your face, they [all creatures] are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground…”
We talked about God’s care for creatures that human beings never see, for the bugs in our backyard, to the undiscovered species at the bottom of the oceans, to the flowers that bloom in mountain valleys where no eye watches, but God’s. I told them, “all creation testifies that God is in control, he is good, and that he rejoices in His own works and glory.”
I told them to look out the window. “See those trees in our backyard? Those really tall ones? They’ve been growing there for over 50 years. And they are speaking to you. They are saying, ‘Look at me! God has watered me, and protected me, and grown me from a tiny acorn! And He is the same God that cares for you.’” Then we saw some squirrels, so I pointed them out and explained, “See those carefree squirrels, jumping around from limb to limb? They have something to tell you. They are saying, ‘Watch us play! God provides. We are free to gather what we need and frolic while we work. He is taking care of us. And he’s taking care of you!’” We found some grass peeking through the snow (not always an easy task in Michigan winter), so I told them “Every blade of grass is testifying, telling you what it has seen and experienced first-hand, that when the LORD makes a thing live, it lives. And when He decides its time to die, it dies. The grass is telling you, that God alone is in control, wise, good, and everlasting.” As usually happens, while I taught, I re-educated my own affections.
Every day, billions of people wake up and take for granted that the earth spins just right- that the “sun knows its time for setting” (vs 19). We whisk by the trees, the squirrels, and the grass on our way to solve the day’s many problems. All the while, we worry. We fret. We fear. We consult search engines and statistics, essentially asking, “Will I be ok?” As Christians, we want to trust God, but he feels far away. In reality, the evidence is so large it’s almost out of focus; it’s so familiar we forget it’s there. Psalm 104 cries out to us, slow down, step back, look, and listen. The universe and your own backyard are testifying to you. They’re saying, “God is taking care of us, and he’s taking care you!” The whole creation pleads with us, “sleep while the Lord spins the earth tonight, look to God while you work for your food in the morning, and play like Leviathan in the sea of the blessing and security of Christ.”
1. Munroe, Randall. What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.