When you read that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV), what does “immeasurably more” bring to mind? How big is your imagination for the “immeasurable”? A peek inside a water drop just might explode your previous conceptions.
At dinner the other night, my youngest, Micah, asked, “Dad, do you know how many molecules are in a drop of water?” Having had my last science class a long time ago, I replied, “I don’t remember.” He said, “Something like six million billon.” Incredulous, I responded, “That sounds way too high.” Micah insisted it wasn’t. So, I consulted my closest science expert (Siri). Sure enough, it’s not six million billion (or six quadrillion). It’s 1.67 sextillion. A million billion “only” has fifteen zeros; a sextillion has twenty-one zeros. Micah’s number was actually way too low!
1.67 sextillion molecules in one drop of water. Do you have any way of getting your mind around that number? Here are a few ways not to comprehend it. If you could count ten molecules a second (that’s really fast), it would take you over four trillion years to count the molecules in that drop. There are more molecules in a tablespoon of water than there are stars in the universe, at least according to some estimates.
It makes you see drops differently, doesn’t it? The clear tear on your cheek contains an unfathomable enormity. Your leaky faucet drips an astronomical amount each minute. The molecular vastness you drink in a bottle of water is as incomprehensible as the cosmos.
We could exponentially increase the boggle in our minds by contemplating that there are about 75,500 drops of water in a gallon (U.S.), and roughly 326 million trillion gallons of water on earth. How many drops and molecules are we talking about now?
You do the math (and ignore the fact that each drop contains more than five sextillion atoms and more than ninety sextillion quarks). These numbers had this humanities-heavy father drowning in the drop.
These realities should have us trembling when we remember how Jesus didn’t drown. The Incarnate Creator Word (John 1:3) was in such comprehensive command of the math and the molecules that they were literally “in subjection under his feet” as he walked upon a sea (John 1:14; Matthew 14:25; Hebrews 2:8; John 6:1) — a sea ironically renamed after the reigning Roman emperor. This molecular miracle was metaphorical, for the sea would never so acknowledge Tiberias’s lordship. And when Tiberias’s government executed Jesus, the imperially ordered death also prostrated itself under the feet of the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; 15:20, 27).
It is no wonder that the disciples were filled with wonder. As they watched the sea obey Jesus’s command, “They were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this?’” (Luke 8:25).
All their lives they had heard of him:
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:9)
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:11–12)
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21–22)
“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” (Job 38:8–11)
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. (Psalm 107:23–27)
The disciples were right to fear and marvel. For the incomprehensible reality was just beginning to dawn on them: this man standing in their boat was the “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
Before the storm hit, “mighty” meant something to the disciples. But after watching the tumultuous Tiberias bow its knee to the Lord Jesus Christ, it meant something new and different.
What does “mighty” mean to you?
The disciples knew nothing of molecules or atoms or quarks or sextillions. But we live in an age where we perceive God’s “eternal power and divine nature . . . in the things that have been made” at macro and micro levels unimaginable even four or five generations ago (Romans 1:20).
“All things were made through [Jesus],” and “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:3). It doesn’t require a sea-stilling; a drop of water is more than enough to fill our imaginations with marvelous fear and make us say, “Who then is this?”
In the boat, Jesus asked his awed disciples, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). The Lord who can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” shows us a drop of water and asks us the same.