One of the most popular night sky objects by amateur astronomers is M57, the Ring Nebula. With a medium sized telescope on a good night, it looks like a small donut or ring. Since it is in Lyra (high in the sky beside Cygnus), it is also viewable by most of the earth’s population. Like many other objects or scenes with striking features, this one was born out of the failure of a star. As a matter of fact, we have quite a record of failures of stars as we gaze at the heavens. Many nebula are a testimony to heavenly violence–decay or deterioration of parts of the universe on a grand scale.
The occurrence of failure in the heavens is common and has Biblical basis. The creation is in subjection. Things do not always work in the heavens; in a similar way death and disease show the failure and brokenness of earth. It is an “inconvenient truth” (to borrow a term) that we live in a fallen world: fallen and broken in physical ways as well as spiritual ways.
This brings me back to the Ring Nebula and its ironic beauty that was born out of failure. The sketch below was done on a ragged night where the sky was full of “sheep” clouds that thickened with every minute. By the end of the period, which was only about an hour, nothing could be seen. The actual sketch took about 40 minutes, and the astro video was able to punch through most of the early lighter clouds so we could still see the central star. The object is most beautiful in color.
The juxtaposition of failure and and beauty is the subject of the eighth chapter of Romans in the Bible that speaks of the utter failure of man’s ability to reach God on his own because of his appetite for sin. The same chapter treats the refreshing salvation of our souls that is offered through Jesus Christ (if we call on Him).
The broken things of both the earth and heavens serve as constant reminders: things are not working as they should in the creation. Much of it is very beautiful, but it is marred by failure and things that are not so pretty.
So when you gaze at some of these beautiful objects that show the results of death and decay, remember that the Biblical worldview expresses something contrary to the popular view. It says the creation is in subjection…it is groaning…it is suffering…a reminder of our own fallen state. There will be a day when it is all made right. In the meantime, we have beautiful sign posts that, in actuality, testify the the brokenness of the heavens–p0inting the to brokenness of the heart. There is a solution.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…
So even failure can be an indicator of solution. God’s manifold ability to reach us in our failure has been made sure through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you see heavens’ failures or those on earth or those in the heart of a person, there is a solution that is most beautiful.
On a similar theme in regard to earth, there is a link in the post below that speaks of the God of calm and storm, if you care to extend the theme to a subject on earth.