I sat outside watching the stars tonight, or at least the few I can see from my driveway in suburbia.
I focused on one spot and counted 55. The verse came to mind:
“He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names.” (Psalm 147:4)
He names… the stars? I don’t even know if I can remember 50 names at one time, yet He has named every star. Every. Single. One. The big ones, the small ones, the ones that we have no idea exist. The old, the newborns, the ones that have yet to explode into the sky. He knows and NAMES them all. They are something to Him. They exist to Him. And He cares about them enough to give each its own name. Why?
When I went back inside, I googled what a star looks like from a telescope. It just about took my breathe away.
Light. Color. Heat. Purples, golds, blues, greens. Explosions in the sky, gas trailing behind brilliant light, like pixie dust, but only hotter and better and more magnificent! My mind cannot even grasp that this is going on right above my head, outside of our world, outside of my daily routine, stars. are being. born. Are EXPLODING INTO BEING. Or going out in a giant Ka-BOOM of light!
What else am I missing in this world?
The pictures are humbling. The mere reflections of refracted light into a telescope where the image is recorded and transmitted back to earth (because telescopes work just like cameras, right?) those images take my breathe away. Would the real deal push me smack onto my face in awe?
We think we know so much, but one look at a star coming to life and I am dumbfounded. What else am I missing? What goes on in the natural and spiritual realms that I do not see? Are battles being waged out there? Is there more significance in the birth of a star than we realize? Or the death of one? Why does He name them, the stars? Why are they so important, beyond the fact that they are beautiful? (I know so little!) And what’s even more mind boggling is that what we see through our naked eye or a telescope is actually looking directly into the past. The bursts of light we capture may have happened hundreds of years ago and the light is only now reaching our eyes. There may be stars being born today that only our grandchildren will see!
I have to admit there’s a reason to my imagination going wild. I’ve been consuming Madeline L’Engle’s children’s series the Time Quintet, starting with the book A Wrinkle In Time. In the book, the children, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, travel above the earth, into the outer realms of the galaxy, looking for Meg and Charles’ father who has disappeared while on a secret government project looking for something called a Tesseract (I won’t tell you more or I’ll spoil it!). As they look over the planets and stars and watch the sun sink into night, they see a large “Black Thing.”
“Meg looked. The dark shadow was still there. It had not lessened or dispersed with the coming of night. And where the shadow was, the stars were not visible.
What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she knew that there had never been before or ever would be again, anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuddering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort?”
The children’s guardians, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who, explain to the children that the Black Thing has taken over several planets, ruling over them and capturing their freedom. The planets and their inhabitants, and even the stars, are fighting the Black Thing. But it is moving forward, and closer to earth. The children are frightened and ask their guardians what IS the Black Thing, and what will happen to earth?!
“Itt iss Eevill…”
“What is going to happen?”
“Wee wwill cconnttinnue tto ffightt!”…
“And we’re not alone, you know, children,” came Mrs.Whatsit, the comforter. “…some of the best fighters have come from your own planet…”
“Who have our fighters been?” Calvin asked.
“Oh, you must know them, dear,” Mrs.Whatsit said.
Mrs.Who’s spectacles shone out at them triumphantly. “And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
L’Engle’s book may be dubbed a children’s book, but as L’Engle says herself:
“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
Her stories have done just that, stirred up my imagination and mixed it with my spiritual questions and thoughts to create an explosion of color that leaves me laying in my driveway, staring up at the stars and wondering is there something out there that we’re missing. We live in a earth fighting the Black Thing, the darkness. Some battles we see, like towns raided by war lords in Africa, or the women being sold into sex slavery in India and Thailand and so many other places, or in poverty, or divorce, or abuse, or addictions. But I am convinced, there is much we do not know or see. There are battles between light and dark behind the battles that we humans see. The possibilities of stars dying in their own fight to resist the Black Thing, evil itself, does not seem that far fetched when you read a book like Revelation, or even the creation account. How much do we not see? How little do we know?
As the children gazed in fear, Mrs. Which reminded the children that there is HOPE: there are people out there fighting. Mrs. Who quoted a verse that has stuck with me since, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
There IS a Light that shines amidst the Darkness! There IS hope amidst the battles and the pain and the chaos and wars. This Light is more brilliant than the most beautiful star, is more powerful than the biggest explosion, and transcends time and space. And the best news is, that it will never be extinguished. The Light is powerful and loving and has already WON. Christ came into the world to defeat the Darkness once and for all by defeating Its main weapon: death. With His resurrection, Christ won. That’s it. Boom. Done. It’s over.
The battles against Darkness have not ended yet, for the lord of darkness has not yet given up. BUT we Hold On with Patient Expectation for the return of the King to claim His Victory.
Christ returned to His Father, so that He could ignite His light in our hearts through His Spirit. He has equipped us to fight the Darkness, to be a light. With His light radiating out from us, we are equipped to continue fighting, through prayer, through love, through sharing the gospel, through repenting of our own sins and believing that we are Children of the Light … we MUST keep fighting. We must press on, persevere, hang to God with everything in us, say no to our flesh and dare to go to uncomfortable and/or dangerous places, so that others can see the Light.
One day (and I hope it’s soon!), Christ will return and remove the Darkness from earth for good. He will open up the gates to heaven and Light will pour forth like nothing ever seen before! He will call us by name and we will participate in His glory and revel in the joy of His beauty.
And maybe this is my imagination running wild, but I hope, that on that day, we will be able to see the stars up close, that we will be able to somehow communicate with them and all of creation. Even if it is only to break forth into song together singing Holy, Holy, Holy is He!