God’s Plan of Red Barns and Stars … This is a Hump Day thinker so hang on and have fun. Have you ever noticed that almost every barn you’ve seen is red? There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the chemistry of dying stars. Seriously. Yonatan Zunger is a Google employee who decided to explain this phenomenon. His simple answer to why barns are painted red is because red paint is cheap. The reason it’s so cheap? Now comes the interesting part.

Red Ochre—Fe2O3—is a simple compound of iron and oxygen that absorbs yellow, green and blue light and appears red. It’s what makes red paint red. It’s really cheap because it’s really plentiful. And it’s really plentiful because of nuclear fusion in dying stars. Did you know the only thing holding a star up is the energy of the fusion reactions? As power levels go down, the star starts to shrink. As it shrinks, the pressure goes up, temperature goes up, until suddenly it hits a temperature where a new reaction can get started. These new reactions give it a big burst of energy, but then they start to form heavier elements; the cycle repeats, with the star reacting further up the periodic table, producing more heavy elements as it goes—until it hits 56. At that point, the reactions simply stop producing energy and the star shuts down and collapses without stopping. It never makes anything heavier than 56-never!

What does this have to do with red paint? When the star stops at 56, it winds up making a ton of things with 56 nucleons—more than anything else! What is the element produced from 56 protons and neutrons in its nucleus in its stable state—IRON—the stuff that makes red paint. And since iron is everywhere, it is not expensive and for a large barn or barns, using red paint was economical if not smart and that’s why they continue with red barns today.

What does this have to do with a devotion? When I read this story, I couldn’t help but think of how death often gives way to life. In this case, a dying star produces iron which is an essential element and mineral we ALL need. Here’s the most important outcomes of iron:

  • Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin and myoglobinwhich are proteins that deliver oxygen to your muscles and body. Your body also needs iron to make some hormones. Every American born will need 27,416 pounds of iron in their lifetime. No iron, no life!
  • Iron is the building block of steel. It powers our homes, appliances, industry…read this list: for appliances, refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, bridges, construction, agriculture, transportation, shipping, roads, buses, trains, motors, power generation, wind turbines, solar panels, infrastructure and Military National defense.

The death of a star gives us iron which is essential in more ways that we could ever imagine. It’s more than red paint, it is a gift from God. Who tells the star it is time to die? Who tells the nucleons to get busy and make iron? This isn’t some “burp of the universe luck” this is a plan so powerful not even a star let alone a nucleon was left out of the Master Plan! Why? Because God, the Master Planner, knew what we would need, from our bodies to just about every corner of our lives—and yes, including a red barn.

When I see a red barn I think of life—what was raised in there? What food do I get from the farmer who worked so hard to get meat, vegetables, eggs and milk to nourish our bodies? What medicines were formed to help both livestock and humans? There is so much more than a red barn – there is a plethora of God’s provision at every turn, and like the story of the dying star, God went to miraculous lengths to make it happen because God knew we couldn’t do it or even think how to.

That’s my devotion for today: God’s plans were set at the beginning of Creation! Everything was there for Adam and Eve as well as for us today. Nothing was gone, nothing was imperfect, everything was thought out. The Master Planner made sure his children would lack nothing. With this perfection why do we whine and grumble? Well, probably because God’s plans were what we truly needed but didn’t fit what we wanted! The next time you whine about something you don’t have but just have to have it, go buy a gallon of red paint and thank a star…and the Creator who made it, AMEN.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal,
“plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future
 and hope—never forget that.
-Jeremiah 29:11 [The Voice]