SOIL AND WATER

Hummingbird moth

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. [Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)]

Indeed, the heavens do proclaim the glory of the Lord. We just enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the beach; God had his paintbrush out and did a magnificent job. By the time we got home, it was dark and we looked up at the glorious night sky. In our Milky Way Galaxy, there are up to 400 billion stars and the total star population is estimated at roughly 100 octillion (1 with 29 zeroes)! The vastness of it all—the enormity of His creation—is mind-boggling.

Less impressive to look at, but equally mind-boggling, is soil. During a recent tour of a local organic farm, our host scooped up a handful of soil. As it sifted through his fingers, he said there are more microorganisms in the earth’s soil than stars in the sky. Since I’ve never thought of my lawn as a “dynamic living ecosystem,” I did a little research. In just that one handful of soil, there were 200 billion bacteria, 20 million protozoa, 100,000 meters of fungi, 100,000 nematodes (unsegmented round worms) and 50,000 arthropods (insects, spider and mites), along with any earthworms and algae that may have tagged along. There are more organisms in one gram of soil than there are human beings on our planet. The total number of bacteria on earth is 5 million trillion trillion (that’s a 5 with 30 zeroes), more than 92% of which live below the earth’s surface! Before getting too impressed by the soil’s many inhabitants, consider the water we drink. According to the MadSci Network, there are 1.67 sextillion molecules of H2O (that’s 21 zeroes) in a single drop of water. We’d need 210 zeros if we were counting the molecules of H2O in just ten drops of water! That outnumbers the stars in the universe and all the organisms in the soil combined!

We tend to think of God’s grandeur and glory in the more impressive things of His creation—things with mass, color, beauty, or strangeness: the sun, moon, or stars; the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef and Mt. Everest; giraffes, whales, jellyfish, and anteaters; passion flowers, giant sequoias, and flamboyant royal poincianas; dawns, sunsets, and the aurora borealis; or thunderstorms, lightning and rainbows. We forget how much attention to detail was taken when God created this world. But, then again, this is the same God who glued those beautiful microscopic scales on a butterfly’s wings (600 per square millimeter), dropped miniscule pollen grains (.006 mm) in the forget-me-not, and packed 100 billion neurons in the human brain.

Thank you, Creator God, for speaking the universe into existence not just with a thunderous roar but also with a gentle whisper as you fashioned both the overpowering and delicate, the massive and miniscule, the gigantic and microscopic. Thank you for each tiny atom with which you crafted the universe. May we never fail to see your hand in every drop of water and every handful of soil.

God hides in the smallest places. [Caspar Barlaeus]

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? [Isaiah 40:12 (NLT)]

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