How far is that?

He watched me when I pointed to a group of stars. Then he looked at the blob on the screen, which was the output from an astro video camera that was fitted to a telescope. The telescope was pointed in the general direction of the same group of stars.

“How far is that?” (It is a common question that children have when they look up.)

So how do you explain that to a little one? You don’t have very long to do it, if you know little ones. I often kneel down and ask a question. “How far is it to your grandmother’s house?

A little one might say, “I think it takes us a long time to get there.”

So I ask a second question, “What if you were a beam of light?”

Usually that causes a little one to think. So while the “thinking look” persists, I ask a challenge question (like a dare): “Do you want to see how fast a light beam goes?”

The answer is always “Yes!”

So I get out a little laser, although a flashlight will do. I tell the little one to watch the beam of special light that comes out the end of the tube. I add this: “Watch it really really really carefully to see how long it it takes to go up into the sky above us.” I move away a dozen big steps or so and turn it on while pointing it toward the same area of the sky we had been looking. I watch the little one while I do this.

I ask, “How long did it take?” Sometimes you have to repeat the exercise. It only takes a couple seconds.

The typical reply is, “It was too fast for me to see!”

“So if you could go that fast to your grandmother’s house, how long would it take?”

Just like child, he will reply in his terms: “Faster than anything!”

I ask, “Do you remember your first question…How far is that blob?” I point to the screen where the object can still be seen.

Children are smart, and if the conversation is short, they remember their question. The child usually nods yes, but some thinking is going on, so you will get a nod but not necessarily a word.

So I ask another question, “If you could go as fast as that beam of light and run that fast for a really long time…until you get as old as your Grandmother, you still would not get even close to that blob.”

A little one will think about that for a few seconds. But if the little one makes a gesture, or folds his hands, or makes a comment, or braces, then be ready for something more. Here is what sometimes follows: “Wow, that’s far. Who put it there?”


A little one will answer pretty quickly. Sometimes it’s one word. Sometimes it’s a comment like how old or fast or big God must be.

Then its my turn. “He is. But He is also real tiny when he needs to be.”

Curiosity takes over. Little ones are pretty quick. A typical reply: “How?”

Now give a simple Biblical truth in little terms: “He knows really little people like you, and loves them, even though he made such a big sky full of stars and things like this.” You have to point to the blob on the screen, or remind the little one what he saw in the telescope. Then you can comment about something the little one has seen: “So God uses stars and blobs like this to show how much He cares about us–even if we are small–but also how wonderful and powerful and big He is.”

One never knows when a heart is touched, but it is better to presume it can happen any time and with any one. Telling the Biblical truth about what is seen in the heavens can be important–even for a little one.


About Roland

We avidly enjoy teaching about and observing God's creation. We are active in Christian mission work that often takes us to the Philippines and Asia. the observation of God's creation in terms. Part of the outreach and work is to maintain a site: [or use]. This site includes inspirational blogs, free downloadable courses, and a history of the charity organization. We aim to share the love of Jesus Christ, who has graciously extended his love to us. Our faith is a walking faith, so faith and works, as much as we are able, are married together.
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3 Responses to How far is that?

  1. you touched my heart today, and I’m big~ Thank you for this message

  2. Ian Thompson says:

    When contemplasting the mind boggling distances and size of God’s universe, I am sure that it is not all about us and yet it is. As a containment device to protect us from ourselves and the rest of
    God’s creations, the immense distances involved are a sure way of limiting the effects of our sinful meddling and yet at the same time, giving us plenty to explore and wonder at ……….

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