The stars were especially bright twinkling through the leaves of our big Chinese Chestnut tree in our back yard as I took the dogs out one last time before bed. It made me homesick for the farm where there is no light interference and nights like this one are the norm, not the rare occasion. I was jolted back to reality, however, when I saw a couple “stars” fall to the ground and then realized they were fireflies!
Back home in WV some nights are so dark you can’t see your hand three inches in front of your face and the stars light up the sky in a way difficult to fully comprehend. Lying in the back of Dad’s pick-up truck bouncing down Balli Mountain on a warm summer starry night, one of us girls would start singing and we’d all join in belting a song from the 60’s: “In the stars His handiwork I see, On the wind He speaks with majesty, Though He ruleth over land and sea, What is that to me? (He’s Everything to Me by Ralph Carmichael) While we didn’t sing especially well, we did sing loud. That old dirt road was bumpy with pot holes making our voices irregularly change pitch like sadly untrained vibrato but we kept singing.
Accepting my vocal limitations, I memorized a scripture verse with which to better respond to those marvelous night skies. “…The heavens declare the glory of God. And the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
There are many nights not clear enough for us to see God’s handiwork. In the literal sense there is cloud cover. In the figurative sense our ideas of self-worth, our vices, our past, our ambitions, and lies the world tells us about our identity can all be barriers that cloud our vision of God’s hand at work in our lives, obscuring the gifts He has for us.
There was a special star the wise men in the bible followed to find a savior fulfilling God’s prophecy. And while we might use star signs like they did before calendars to direct us about best planting times, God cautions us about using horoscopes. They are not a healthy way to guide our destiny. Jesus has become the only “star” we need to rely on for personal guidance. He says in Revelation 22:16 that He is the Root and the Offspring of David, The Bright and Morning Star.This metaphor parallels the physical world as the morning star (Venus) rises and signals the sun will soon be out—likewise breaking the darkness.
Astrology and the science of Astronomy are two different things. One of the coolest places on earth is in the National Quiet Zone nestled in the WV mountains—Green Bank Observatory, which is home to astronomy research that is literally out of this world! Amazingly, one of the eight telescopes is 2.4 acres in surface area and can identify a quarter from three miles away. And in Cincinnati, OH there’s a smaller, yet impressive telescope slated to be the world’s oldest telescope still in use by the general public. We clearly remain intrigued and in awe of His handiwork.
Some of us naturally have stars in our eyes and allow ourselves to be transported by a tree full of fireflies. Some see stars when we get a bump on the head or stand up too quickly. Some worship the fleeting stars in Hollywood. And thankfully some wise men still follow a bright and Morning Star.
It’s ironic that while we have telescopes pointed at the heavens appreciating the complexity and searching for signs of intelligent life, God is looking down doing the same thing. “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the havens and the earth?” (Psalm 113: 5-6) I sure hope He finds what He’s looking for;)
Janet Cowger- Fliegel