Fireworks and Full Moon: A Parable
Meditations from the Curb
At 10 P.M. on July 4, Noël and I and Barnabas walked out onto the 11th Avenue bridge and sat down on the curb. If we looked north over the Dome we could see fireworks from the Mississippi River. If we looked south we could see the fireworks over Powderhorn Park. We were sandwiched in the sky-glitz of Independence Night.
A small crowd of us shared our oo’s and aahh’s at the spectacular explosions. For fifteen minutes we were impressed and delighted by the beauty and power of man-made light. It got us out of our houses. It gave us a sense of wonder.
About ten minutes into the display, as I turned my head from north to south, I suddenly noticed a white light behind the trees to the southwest. “What’s that?” I thought. A second later I could tell it was the moon. It was very large and looked full. It was politely waiting its turn.
The moon was in no hurry to be noticed. It had been there before (Adam and Abraham and Jesus looked on this same moon), and it would be there again when all the glitz was gone. It was quietly rising at its own pace, irresistibly and without any human help. But hardly anyone was noticing.
So it is with the glory of God and the glitz of sin. We are more amazed at sin. And we ignore the glory of God. This is truly amazing.
The moon rises about 240,000 miles above the earth, which means it soars about 500,000 times higher than the highest fireworks. The moon travels at about 2,300 miles per hour in its outward serenity around the earth, which is probably five times faster than the fireworks. The moon is 2,160 miles thick (from San Francisco to Cleveland). It weighs 81 quintillion tons (3 zeroes more than a trillion). It has mountain ranges with peaks almost as high as Mt. Everest. It has empty seas 750 miles across, and craters 146 miles wide and 20,000 feet deep.
The power of the moon is unimaginable. Nothing on earth that man has ever made can compare. Every day the moon takes the oceans of the earth, and lifts them quietly—millions upon millions upon millions of tons of water—quietly and irresistibly into the air. In Boston, the tide recedes 10 feet. In Eastport, Maine it recedes 19 feet. In Nova Scotia, in the Bay of Fundy, the tides vary up to 43 feet.
The moon is an awesome thing. If you stood in the sunlight on the moon, the fluids in your body would boil, but if you walked into the shadow of a large rock you would quickly freeze solid.
But who sees the moon? Who stands in awe of the moon? Who looks at the moon on Independence night when there are human fireworks to watch? Who notices the really great things in life? Should we wonder at all that humans are oblivious to the glory of God when there are such clear parables of our blindness built into everyday experience?
Then think that the moon is but a reflection of the sun which quietly keeps its 93-million-mile distance lest we be consumed. Then think that the sun is but a medium sized star. Then think that God created them all and leads them out by number and calls them by name. “Because of the greatness of his might and the strength of his power not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26).
Read your emotional barometer. Do the amazements and delights of life correspond to God’s reality? Or do they rise and fall on the passing waves of human glitz?
From the curb,