When NASA recently released its second Blue Marble photo in 43 years, I was captured by the intense beauty of planet Earth. When they released their first Blue Marble photograph in 1972, I was a child and oblivious. Now I am an adult and I am enraptured.
What an extraordinary gift God has given to mankind.
The beauty, the depth, the intensity and the pure genius of this planet are far beyond the most talented artist or brilliant scientist.
Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan has been quoted several times in articles about the Blue Marble photo. It is a worthy quote, repeated here:
“…you’re looking at the most beautiful star in the heavens — the most beautiful because it’s the one we understand and we know, it’s home, it’s people, family, love, life — and besides that it is beautiful. You can see from pole to pole and across oceans and continents and you can watch it turn and there’s no strings holding it up, and it’s moving in a blackness that is almost beyond conception.”
I write this as I sit and watch zebra drinking a few yards from me. I am beyond privileged to visit this National Reserve. It is one of the most beautiful places on this planet and sacred in it’s task of preserving Africa’s wildlife.
As I sit in the shade of this African rock, and I look at the stunning image of this Blue Marble rock we call home, I am compelled to ask, “What on earth are we doing?”
We live in a world where baby parts are harvested then sold over lunch. Where abortion clinics purport to care for the safety of women, but do so at the expense of their babies. What on earth are we doing? I want to live in a world where women are optimally cared for as well as a world where babies are born. Not one or the other but both.
I recently visited two women who live in tin shacks. One had a two-roomed shack made of rusted corrugated iron and broken pieces of cardboard. The roof leaked badly above her as she lay in her sick bed. This is living at its worse. Or so I thought until I visited the second woman. She lived in a cardboard hovel with no windows and no door. She, too, was sick. The rain poured in. The bed on which she lay, as well as her thin blankets, were soaking wet.
“Dear God!” I cried. “Why?”
What on earth are we doing?
I am happy to report that both women received homes made from new corrugated iron with windows and doors and no leaks. This is a huge step forward but … I want to live in a world where nobody has to live in a tin shack.
This I write, not to make anybody feel guilty for what they own. In fact, I urge you to get as educated as you can and work at the best organizations and earn as much as you can so that you can help women like these who will never have the same opportunities.
We live in a world where people shoot each other, almost any time and any place. Where churches are not held as safe and sacred places and where authorities randomly shoot and get shot. What on earth are we doing? I want to live in a world where communities stand together and build up not tear down, where children are safely and wonderfully educated and where all have opportunities for development and growth.
This amazing Blue Marble plant called Earth is filled with animals, both small and large, full of majesty and dignity. We live in a world where beloved animals get lured out of their safe sanctuaries to get shot and beheaded. For no good reason. Or they have their horns hacked out and sold for the lie of extended sexual pleasure. Seriously? What on earth are we doing?
What about our role as keepers of this planet? What happened to that?
Mankind is a steward of planet Earth. According to scripture we have been given the responsibility to rule over this beautiful creation. God has made us in his image. If we are like him, then surely we are to rule with love and with justice? Surely?
Where is the love when babies are legally hacked up? Where is the justice when protected animals are beheaded? Where is our humanity when a sick woman lies in a soaking wet bed under a leaking roof made of cardboard?
I know that beautiful acts of compassion happen every day. I know that love and justice exist and I know that good abounds. But, today, as I look at our stunning Blue Marble planet, there are just too many issues that bother me. Deeply.
Surely we should ALL be asking, “What on earth are we doing?”
I know I can’t save the whole world. Neither can you. But, each of us can have influence in our circle. Each of us can make a change, no matter how small. We can speak up for those who have no voice. We can come alongside those who are fallen. We can stand up for those who have no platform. We can join together and with each contribution, large or small, we can change this planet we call home. Then, when we ask, “What on earth are we doing?” we can answer with certainty and with clarity, “We are about our Father’s business.”
“And he [Jesus] said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?” Luke 2:49
If you want to do something meaningful, but don’t know what or where, how about here?
Blue Marble image, NASA. All other images belong to Michelle Tessendorf.