Pastor’s Corner: Navigation

By Mark Hopper

I grew up during the Space Race of the 1960’s as America and Russia worked furiously to be the first to land a man on the moon. It was an amazing time in our nation’s history. Apollo 8 was the first time men orbited the moon and Apollo 11 was the first landing of men on the moon in 1969. America won the Space Race.

It is hard to believe that was fifty years ago. In 2019 I enjoyed reading several books and watching TV documentaries and movies about both of those remarkable moments. One of the things that caught my attention was how essential reliable navigation was to the success of those missions. I learned that the American astronauts were required to memorize the locations of a number of stars and constellations. Even though they had computers and sophisticated navigational equipment the astronauts knew they could rely on the locations of constellations and stars to chart their course to and from the moon.

I have read that Polynesians used the stars to navigate their way across the vast Pacific Ocean. They rested in the day and paddled and sailed by night aiming toward certain stars and constellations. The European explorers like Henry the Navigator from Portugal and other nations used the location of the sun and the stars to identify their location and chart their courses, too. They knew the locations of the stars were predictable and reliable in ancient times and they still are today. Now we have GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) to chart the paths for ships, aircraft and our own automobiles. These provide a reliable source for navigation and travel.

The Bible says that God created the universe. He placed the sun, moon, earth and stars in their places. The planets follow predictable orbits and the location of the stars are consistent and trustworthy. The Bible says, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens – who created all of these? God calls each of the stars by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26).

Let me encourage you to reflect on the beauty and order of the stars in the sky. When you see a beautiful full moon rising up in the eastern horizon I hope it reminds you of the regularity of the seasons and the reliability of each day and month. Give thanks to God who created the world we enjoy. You will be glad you did and He will too!