A friend of mine recently shared a story with me of a tour she took of the astronomy department at a prestigious English university. She described a map of the sky that included hundreds of pinpoints of light that captured her attention and she told how she stopped and stared at it contemplating the stars each dot must represent. She inquired about the map and the stars but was quickly corrected by the experts; the map showed galaxies not stars, she was informed. Each pinpoint of light indicated the existence of a whole galaxy of stars and heavenly bodies, not simply one isolated star in the vastness of space. There are, as she was told, more galaxies than can ever be counted. I listened to the story as shocked and amazed as my friend had been when she originally encountered that map years ago.
My children love big numbers. They are fascinated by the names and interested in learning more about them. So, one day, a few years ago, we set out to find out as many really big numbers as we could. We went beyond millions, beyond billions, even beyond trillions in our search. We came across the number googol. A googol is the number represented by a one followed by one hundred zeros. My kids loved that number and I would hear them say things like, “I am a googol times better at checkers than you are!” After playing around with the concept of a googol for a while they were interested in finding out even more big numbers. Even bigger big numbers, that is. So we looked further and found that there is a number called googolplex and it is the number 10 to the googol power. Now this really was beyond my own understanding and, therefore, way, way beyond that of my children but they decided they loved googolplex about a googolplex times more than just plain old googol, if you follow all that!
I remember as a child, myself, learning that both numbers and the universe are infinite. Infinite, as in never ending. Never. They both just go on…forever. I could not grasp the enormity of it all. I could not really imagine never ending. I kept thinking there has to be an end, somewhere. But then I would wonder, if there was an end what was beyond that? I would think about it sometimes and my mind would just be boggled by it all. I felt so small as I imagined the unending universe surrounding me.
I was doing my nightly scripture reading last night and came across the following, in the book of Wisdom 11:21-22, “For with you great strength abides always; who can resist the might of your arm? Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance…” As I was reflecting on my reading I thought again of my friend’s story of the map of the galaxies. I thought of the big, huge numbers my children are so fascinated by. I thought of myself, as I so often do. I thought of all my problems, problems that no matter the size, I tend to magnify in my own mind. Then I thought of God, the creator of it all. God, who holds it all in His hand, who sees it all, all the time. I thought of God with the whole universe, all of His creation, spread before Him and it amounting, next to Him, to only a tiny bit of grain. And me? I am barely a speck in that bit of grain and yet my heavenly Father sees me, watches over me, loves me. And as I sat there, contemplating it all, my tiny, infinitesimal mind was boggled beyond belief. Yet I felt at peace with my smallness and blessed by His greatness and, above all, thankful for things that I will never fully comprehend that remind me that nothing is bigger than God’s love.