One of the best things about a vacation is time to catch up or finish books that seem to sit on a table, desk or headboard, just waiting to be finished. Fortunately for me, I just got this opportunity. One of the unfinished books in my bag was “Indescribable” by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman.

While the entire book was filled with awe inspiring quotes, facts, scriptures and photos, it wasn’t until the last few pages that I got a small grasp of the bigness and greatness of God.

Two points related to the vastness of space – the first talking about our nearest star neighbor (not counting our sun), Proxima Centauri.

“…Let’s stick with Proxima Centauri for a moment and find a more pictorial explanation of exactly what we’re encountering here. Say we have a ballpoint pen, and for the purposes of this illustration we imagine the tiny tip of that pen to be Earth. We place this pen on the ground, and then about 15 feet away we place a ping-pong ball, which on this scale represents our Sun. Sticking to this scale, how far away to we suppose we need to place a second ping-pong ball to represent Proxima Centauri? The answer is quite overwhelming. You would need to travel approximately 1,430 miles away¹ to place the second ball. And, remember, except for the Sun, that’s our nearest star neighbor.” For additional perspective, that nearly the equivalent of measuring that pen from my hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon all the way out to Oklahoma City.

Again, describing the amount of space that is in space, Redman goes on to say,

“…As huge and impressive as stars are, they are a mere dot on the cosmic landscape. Scientist estimate the average distance between them to be around twenty trillion miles². As on astronomer describes it, ‘Place three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars.‘”³ For more perspective, according to Wikipedia, the largest cathedral in the world is St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, measuring 1,200,000 cubic meters. But hey, that’s the Vatican… we expect that to be big. Looking a little closer to home, the 4th largest Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City coming in at a “mere” 480,000 cubic meters. Imagine just three grains of sand in this massive structure and feeling “crowded”. Amazing.

  1. Illustration from Astrasurf-Magazine,
  2. T. Padmanabhan, “Ripples in the Early Universe,” Physics Education, January-March, 227.
  3. NASA, “Educational Brief: Exploring the Interstellar medium,”

Taken from Indescribable, Louie Giglio & Matt Redman. Indescribable, p. 166-167. Published by David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, CO. 2011.

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