In 1984 (the actual year, not the novel) my parents took my brother and me to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Perhaps because we took a day off from our Disney trip to do it, or perhaps because people in 1984 weren’t as keen to grab kids’ attention with the “wow” factor, or perhaps both, I remember it as one of the most boring days of my life. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when my husband and I took our son to Johnson Space Center in Houston yesterday.

May I just say – Wow!

They had lots of stuff aimed at grabbing kids’ attention, and Nathan had a blast (pun definitely intended). And it was interesting to see how the astronauts live on the space station without gravity. All of it was fascinating, but what really grabbed me and won’t let go was the Saturn V rocket. This was an actual rocket of the type used to travel to the moon, but it had never been used. Eventually they built a temperature-controlled shed around it to preserve it and left it for tourists to look at.

Have you ever stood beside a rocket? If not, you cannot begin to imagine the size. Even if you’ve seen them on TV and think you understand that they’re big, until you’ve stood beside it, you cannot begin to imagine what “big” means. Our tour guide had said ahead of time, “I guarantee when you step into the shed, your first words will be something along the lines of, ‘Oh my goodness.'” I thought, Well, now that you’ve warned us, that won’t be true. But it was true. I had determined I wouldn’t be shocked, just to prove him wrong, but the words were jerked out of me without my consent.

The size was amazing enough, but even more incredible was the proportionately tiny space allocated for the astronauts. They were squeezed into a triangular cone on top of something like 350 feet of fuel tanks. That cone was the only part of the rocket which would return to earth – the rest was jettisoned after the fuel was burned.

Anyone who knows me knows I think more than is good for me, so naturally I’ve been thinking too much about the symbolism of that rocket. (I swear, this stuff just comes to me; I don’t dig for it!)

I thought I’d been prepared for the size of the rocket, but when I stood next to it, the true, overwhelming size of it blew me away. It was huger than I ever could have imagined. I think when we come one day into the presence of God, that will be our reaction. We may talk, here on earth, of how big He is, and how overwhelming, but we can’t begin to imagine what that means. No amount of knowledge will ever prepare us for that moment when we step into His presence and simply have to say “Wow!” (Or think it, since the wow may be so huge we’re beyond speech.)

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how tiny the astronauts’ space was compared to all the fuel it took to get them where they were going. It wouldn’t have been comfortable. It may have seemed like they could take over more of the space and stretch out a little. Of course, they didn’t do that, because they wouldn’t have reached the moon without all that space for fuel. And that’s how it is for us, too. It’s not too comfortable to make ourselves decrease so God can increase in us, but if we start stretching out, if we try to take space back from Him, we won’t have the fuel to get where we’re going.

I realize it’s a stretch as an analogy, but it shows me again how, when God is first in your life, everything points to Him, whether it’s intended that way or not. That’s a big wow factor.

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