When Knowledge Turns to Experience
President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech before a joint session of Congress on May
25, 1961, that changed the world as we know it. In it, President Kennedy challenged our nation
to land a man on the moon before the decade was out. President Kennedy felt some pressure for
the United States to take the lead in space exploration. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched
Sputnik, the first of a series of Soviet-made satellites to orbit the earth. And just a month before
this speech, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, orbiting the
earth and returning safely.
Slightly more than eight years later, on July 20, 1969, more than 500 million people
watched the television broadcast of our moon landing as Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo
11, stepped onto the lunar surface—and took a “giant leap for mankind.” No one could have
predicted how the “space race” would change the world. As a result of advances in space
exploration technology, we now know more about the universe than anyone might have
reasonably anticipated. And when the Atlantis deployed the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990,
our new eye in the sky began transmitting pictures that shocked earth dwellers. The vastness,
complexity, and sheer beauty of the universe turned science fiction into reality. And the
International Space Station, first deployed in 1998, has expanded the boundaries of science and
human physiology as astronauts have lived in space for months at a time.
Perhaps even more than the destinations of space exploration—the moon, Mars’ landings,
Hubble, the Space Station—has been the process of getting there. Countless discoveries along
the way—in computer science, astronomy, metallurgy, fabrication, engineering, electronics,
telecommunications, ecology, education, food sciences, human psychology, physiology, and
more—have spilled out of NASA and space-related corporations into the public sector and
benefited the world community in countless ways. Consider, where would we be today without
GPS navigation systems in our cars and on our mobile phones?
When British mountaineer George Mallory was asked in 1924 why he wanted to climb
Mount Everest, he replied with the words that epitomize the human spirit of exploration:
“Because it’s there.” Exploration leads to education, which leads to transformation, which leads
to further exploration . . . and the cycle continues on and on. But it is not only in the hard
sciences of space travel, oceanography, medicine, or computer science that the cycle exists. At
least, it should not be. Such a spirit of exploration and growth should characterize our spiritual
relationship with God as well.
Though it’s unlikely we’ll ever hit a brick wall in our scientific explorations, there is a
sense in which they are finite: the oceans, the human body, a computer—they all have
boundaries which might eventually limit our knowledge. But God is infinite! Indeed, the most
boundary-less domain we know of—the far reaches of our universe—were created by God
Himself. He is far more vast and unsearchable than the universe. The writers of Scripture
recognized the limitless nature of God: His works (Job 5:9), His greatness (Psalm 145:3), His
understanding (Isaiah 40:28), His judgments and His way (Romans 11:33), and His riches in
Christ (Ephesians 3:8) are all unsearchable. That doesn’t mean we can’t know them, it means we will never exhaust them.
In the Christian life, too often there is a tendency to settle in and get comfortable, and to
fail to keep alive the sense of exploration, adventure, learning, and growth. After all, God’s
kingdom continues to grow every minute—so shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t we stay on the cutting
edge of knowledge and spiritual experience and service?
I encourage you to explore your relationship with God, to let your exploration lead to
new experiences that will expand your view of God and your relationship with Him. If you think
life would be less meaningful had we not ventured into space, think about the failure to explore
the vastness of our infinite God. To grow, you have to know, and to know you have to go. This is
a call to renewed knowledge and experience in your Christian life—a call to rekindle the spirit of
discovery and growth as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow
Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. For more information about Turning Point
go to www.DavidJeremiah.org