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“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and multitudes of heaven worship You.” — Nehemiah 9:6
With a group of military wives in a Bible study on Friday morning, I wondered out loud how our deployed service members ever got used to so much sand-color—that it all must be “very beige” in the desert. A soldier’s wife quickly corrected me with a rebuke — “Oh, Linda, you’re wrong! My husband tells me that he has never seen such beautiful sunrises and sunsets. And the stars—oh my . . . he tells me that at night he has never seen so many stars!!”
I stood corrected, and grateful that even in the midst of war there was the God-given ability to appreciate the wonders of His creation. There in the desert, in the cradle of civilization, the majesty of God is on display. Consider this:
— our sun, the closest star to us, is 109 times larger than the earth and its luminosity equal to 4 million-trillion 100-watt light bulbs;
— even at that, the sun is just an average star inside the galaxy called the Milky Way;
— the Milky Way contains over 100 billion stars;
— there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in this universe.
In Isaiah 40:26 we read, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” The thought that our God knows each of these stars by name is beyond my comprehension, and I am awe-struck.
My father was a navigator in World War II, back when the Air Force was the Army Air Corps. He used a sextant (which I have saved in my closet) to determine his aircraft’s position and to plot his course—and knew many stars by name. I remember, as a little girl, going out at night with our family and seeing him point out the different constellations—and telling us how they got their names. The safety of his aircraft and crew depended on his ability to know these stars and know how to use the instruments correctly. Another concept that my father wanted to make clear was that the position of these stars was unchangeable—and it was because of their unchanging nature that he could trust them in order to navigate.
We see this same idea spoken of by Jerry Bridges, Christian author and speaker, who served in the Navy during the Korean War. Bridges reminds us that spiritually we need to “line up” with God just as the position of his ship did with the stars when they were underway. He writes, “In my Navy days before we had global positioning satellites we used a sextant to get our navigational position twice each day. At dawn and dusk we would ‘shoot the stars’ and get a position. And invariably after having done that, we had to make a minor course correction. Obviously if we didn’t do that, not only daily, but in our case twice a day, we would soon find that we were way off course. You and I also need that daily course correction, and we do this as we have this focused time with God. . . Personal communication with God needs to be daily. If not we find ourselves drifting off course.”
The same stars that shone down on Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jerry Bridges and my Dad shine down today on our troops. Let us take a moment to reflect on the majesty of His creation from the book of Psalms:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” — Psalm 8:3-4
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” — Psalm 19:1
“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.” — Psalm 33:6
“In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.” — Psalm 102:25
Perhaps we can all take time to look up into the heavens at night and consider how God loved us so much that He created this beauty, even for us. And not only is this celestial display beautiful, but it points to the unchanging steadfastness of God’s character which we can count on to provide exact and unwavering guidance throughout the journeys of our lives.
Bridges, Jerry, “Four Essentials for Finishing Well” in Stand: A Call for The Endurance of the Saints, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008)
Questions to Share:
- Because of the unchanging nature of the God-created stars, my Dad was able to navigate across the oceans and deserts in war-time. Are there some unchanging characteristics of God by which you can navigate the trials of life?
- Isaiah says that God knows the stars by name. And Jesus says that God also has numbered the very hairs of our head (Matthew 10:30). In what ways does that give you comfort?