The more you look, the more you see. This thought entered my mind as my husband and I sat on the balcony of our beach house getaway, gazing upward at the vast, starry sky.
As we first went outside, the sky appeared overcast, with few discernible points of light. But the longer we sat there, the more dark-adapted our eyes became. Gradually more stars appeared, and even recognizable constellations. After several minutes of our evening prayer, a meteor even streaked across the horizon, leaving a shining trail before it vanished!
If we are to fully appreciate the night sky, we must spend time in hopeful anticipation that our patience will be rewarded. It is much the same for prayer. We can rush through it, like the hastily recited grace in a restaurant, squeezed in before the server returns to take the order. Or we can wait quietly in our prayer closet, not so that we can remember and ask for every last wish cluttering our mind that day, but so that we can hear God speak (Psalm 46:10; 1 Kings 19:12).
Before we reclined in the patio chairs, our view was restricted to what was immediately before and below us. The horizon and waves were mesmerizing and soothing, yet had we not changed our perspective to the heavens above, we would have missed the main event!
I wonder how many times God wants to direct our attention upward, to remind us that our home is in Heaven once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and that we are already seated in heavenly places in Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). Yet if we stubbornly look downward or even straight ahead, how can we set our minds and hearts on things above and store up heavenly treasure (Matthew 6:19-20) that lasts forever?
The stargazing on that particular night was spectacular, with little light pollution from the quiet beachside development, and a new moon reflecting no light to Earth. Jesus Christ Himself is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5), just as the sun is the physical source of light on our planet. Sunlight reflected from the moon, which has no intrinsic light source, illuminates the night sky. Similar, we as believers are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:15), reflecting His light to others.
But in certain phases of the moon, sunlight reflected from the moon is not visible from our location on Earth, and the brilliance of the stars is our only nocturnal illumination. I believe there are seasons when Christ’s glory reflects brightly from His children, to His glory, and other seasons when His light is not reflected from us, lest we be consumed by pride and wrongly assume that we shine brightly without His power. As John the Baptist said, “[Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
The heavens are filled with countless stars, most of which are brighter than earth’s sun, yet they are impossible to see during the day because light from the sun is so much closer. They are even difficult to see at night, particularly when there is a full moon or many street or porch lights.
Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19), in the third heaven, even further away from the second heaven where the stars reside (2 Corinthians 12:2). Yet He sent His Holy Spirit to live within the heart of every believer (2 Corinthians 1:22), so He is very near to us (Acts 17:27; James 4:8). But if we allow His light within us to be eclipsed by the false lights of the world or by our own self-glorification, we will miss His lamp to our feet and light for our path (Psalm 119:105).
Thinking I could enhance our stargazing experience, I had surprised my husband on his birthday with the gift of a telescope! My intentions were good, but after more than an hour of fiddling with knobs, lenses, screws, and viewing angles, the image we could see through the viewfinder was blurred and actually inferior to what we could see with our naked eyes!
It may have been operator error, or faulty equipment, but in any case it made me think that God often wants to communicate with us directly through His Word, and not through an overly analytical approach that may actually distance us from His message or obfuscate His truth.
Bible study and meditation on His Word are good, desirable, and commanded by God (Psalm 119; John 5:39; Acts 17:11). Often Scripturally sound commentaries, sermons, and teaching can be illuminating, yet the best commentary on the Word of God is the Word of God. Reading books about the Bible are no substitute for reading the Bible itself.
If we attempt to view the stars through a telescope lens, we may succeed in getting a closer glimpse of a particular star, but we may lose sight of the forest for the trees and fail to appreciate the overwhelming glory of God through the vastness of His creation. The glory of the stars is different from that of the sun and the moon, and each star differs from the others in its glory (1 Corinthians 15:41)
I am reminded of a speaker I once heard at a funeral, who gave a most erudite, detailed presentation about Joseph of Arimathaea (Mark 15:43), his history, his family history, and his provision of the tomb for Jesus. Yet he failed to preach the Gospel, to mention that the tomb is empty (John 20), and that through Jesus’ resurrection, all who trust Him have eternal life!
The starry sky is not only beautiful and awe-inspiring, but it also calls to mind God’s many promises recorded and fulfilled in His Word. He promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation with descendants as innumerable as the grains of sand in the desert, or as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; etc.). He kept and is still fulfilling this promise through the birth of Isaac even when his mother Sarah had been barren and was then decades past her childbearing years (Genesis 17:17).
God not only created all the stars by His Word (Genesis 1:16; Psalm 8:3; 136:9) and arranged them into constellations (Job 9:9) but knows each of them by name (Psalm 147:4), just as He knows each of us intimately and knows our needs before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Bible prophecy foretells that during the Great Tribulation, which no believer will experience, a third of the stars will fall from the sky (Revelation 8:12; 12:4; Matthew 24:29), and the stars will no longer give their light (Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:10; 3:15).
It has been said that looking at the star-filled sky is like hiding under the front porch as children, peering through the cracks between the floorboards, and seeing pinpoints of light among the cobwebs, dirt and rusty nails. We caught a glimpse of something better, yet we could not appreciate that on the other side of those floorboards was a stately mansion. Now we contemplate the stars but as of yet cannot imagine the glory Heaven holds (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9), including the special mansions Christ is preparing for us (John 14:1-3).
Jesus Christ Himself is the bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16) Who will come again (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), I pray soon, just when all is at its darkest. May the eyes of our understanding (Ephesians 1:18) be enlightened! Till He returns may we keep looking up (Luke 21:28), for our ultimate redemption into glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15: 42-57) draws near!
© 2020 Laurie Collett