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In troubled times, look to the stars for comfort

I love to look at the stars.

Currently, my office computer runs through a slideshow of images from NASA of our galaxy.

Stars, planets, quasars, pulsars, moons and Pluto, the rock formerly known as Planet No. 9.

Such incredible beauty exists beyond our world, if only we would look up to see it.

I don’t know what first drew me to stars. When I was a teenager, I would go out to our local park, get out of my car and just stare at the universe above me.

I think there was something profound about the quiet immensity of what I saw, the new revelations I saw as my eyes adjusted to the dim lights shining millions of miles away.

It helped put into perspective what was going on in my life. If the God who made the lights above me said that he loved me, then what did I have to worry about?

As it turns out, I worried plenty.

And as I got older, the worries and concerns didn’t subsist. Instead, they morphed. Rather than worry about friends, I worried about employers. Rather than worry about grades, I worried about finances. But the stars still shined …

A man named Abram found himself standing out in a field alone. His sheep were meandering around in their makeshift pen, preparing to bed down for the night.

Abram was a wanderer, traveling with his wife, Sarai. God had called him to take a great leap of faith, leaving everything he had ever known.

God had promised him that he would have many descendants, and that they would be a blessing to the whole world. And while leaps are exciting, sometimes the landings make us worry.

Abram began trying to figure out where God was taking him. How would he have a child? He and his wife were old, and had no children yet. Would everything be given to Eliezar, his servant?

In Genesis 14:4-5, God corrects Abram, and reminds him that this is not the plan:

“Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.”

Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Abram had boiled his life down to a very anti-climactic result. His stuff would go to his employee. The End. Roll credits.

He looked down at the life around him, at the world he could see, and said, “This must be it. This is all God can do. This is all I will be.”

But God said, “Look up.”

And a teenage girl looks down at the scars on her wrists and says, “This must be it. This is all God can do. This is all I will be.”

But God says, “Look up.”

And husband and wife stare at their separate screens, slowly drifting apart, while saying, “This must be it. This is all God can do. This is all we will be.”

But God says, “Look up.”

And that elderly man looks at his cane and the sea of orange pill bottles on his table and says, “This must be it. This is all God can do. This is all I will be.”

But God says, “Look up.”

Just as the universe is without boundaries, ever changing and blooming, so too is the life that God has placed within all of us. We try to confine it to what is expected, or what everyone else tells us it should be, but God says, “Look up. Do you see the stars? Try to count them. Notice the colors, the shapes, the twinkle. Have you seen the planets? No, not those planets, the ones in the other galaxies. What about the Moon? Pretty, right? I made all of this that you see, and the expanse of the cosmos that you have never seen, all with three words: Let. There. Be. How much more could I do with all the words I have spoken over you?”

Maybe you and I are like Abram. We want to follow God, and perhaps we have taken a leap. But we have allowed fear about the landing to cloud our vision, to where all we can see is what is right in front of us.
But God says, “Look up.”

Behold his quiet immensity, his creative beauty, his all-surrounding love. The God of the universe wants you to know Him. He has big plans for you. Stop the worrying, cease the fighting, hush the complaining, and just …

Look up.

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