Last summer, I watched on television as Felix Baumgartner sat poised on the edge of a capsule readied to jump. The capsule was attached to a balloon that had risen to a height of 128,100 feet. Moments later, he leaped out of the capsule in what would become a world record height for a skydive. The jump was fascinating to watch but also nerve-wracking until he landed safely back on the ground using a parachute.
I don't know where Felix stands in terms of faith matters, but an interesting question to ask would be this: did he feel any closer to God while he was up there? (Or did he even care?) To put it another way, does a mountain climber scaling Mount Everest get closer to God as they approach the summit?
Before leaving the capsule, Felix remarked, "I wish you could see what I can see. Sometimes you have to be up really high to understand how small you are...I'm coming home now."
In Isaiah 40:21-22 (NKJV), it reads, "Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in."
If nothing else, maybe Felix had a similar visual vantage point.
Yet if Felix had instead been aboard a deep sea diving vessel, he still would have encountered God. In Psalm 139:7-10 David writes, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me."
One of the thematic questions I'm exploring in my current work-in-progress is whether or not mankind can flee to another planet in order to escape God...or at least the perceived persecutions from Christians themselves. Sort of like a reverse version of the Mayflower voyage. Is it possible? Or is God truly omnipotent and omnipresent not only on Earth but also elsewhere in the universe as His word suggests? And in a similar way, why do so many people expend so much endless energy trying to run in the first place? There are several plans in the works to send missions to Mars, and surely some challenges will be raised on the existence and nature of God as a result.
Yet fleeing to outer space would still bring a person face-to-face with God.
In Amos 5:8 (NKJV) it states, "He made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; the Lord is His name." Likewise, in Job 38:31 God tells Job, "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?"
The chances of our generation taking a spaceship to the Pleiades or the belt of Orion to test this theory in the next decade are probably zero. Even if we could make it there, how would one even begin to amass enough energy to rearrange entire star systems?
Maybe the answer isn't found by soaring in a balloon to the edge of space or scaling up the highest mountain. Maybe the answer isn't found in the depths of the ocean or in a settlement on the Red Planet. Perhaps the answer has been with us all along, ready to respond in an instant as the Israelites found out during the exile: "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV)