Aug 25 2013

The Moon and Stars

_CES7969In recent days I’ve had occasion to do some photography of the night sky.  While visiting Michael Boone in Washington State I photographed the Milky Way from his driveway.  It had been a long time since I was able to see that many stars at one time.  A few days ago I saw the beautiful full moon rise as I was walking our dog and quickly ran home to get my camera and telephoto lens so that I could capture an image of it.  It was quite a sight sitting over the neighbor’s house.

_CES1966Both opportunities remind me of something the Psalmist said long ago.  In Psalm 8 David declared, “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?” (v. 3-4)  There can be no doubt that David felt what so many of us have when viewing the night sky–an incredible sense of smallness.  Had he known what we know today he might have felt even smaller.  There’s no way he could have known then that the moon was 238,900 miles above his Judean home.  Nor would he have have known that there are around 100,000 million stars in the Milky Way alone.  Some recent studies indicate that the total number of stars in the universe might exceed 300 sextillion (that’s 3 followed by 23 zeros).  Still, what David saw and knew was enough for him to feel humbled before the Creator and “the work of your fingers.”

David wondered how the One who put the moon and stars in their place could possibly be mindful of him or care for him.  As he expresses this wonder it is not that he is doubtful that God is mindful of him or lacks concern.  Quite the opposite!  David was very much aware of God’s concern for him; he just found it hard to believe as he gazed into the heavens.  He’s certainly not the only one to have had this problem.  I know that God loves me immensely but when I look up at the heavens at night, or across the Grand Canyon, or at the summit of Mount McKinley I find that knowledge all the more amazing.  I feel so small.  So insignificant.

GC-Imperial-PointIn Psalm 147 it says God “determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (v. 4)  That is unfathomable to me for it means God knows over 300 sextillion stars by name!  In the spirit of David, what blows my mind in light of this is that he knows my name too.  In John 10:3 Jesus talked about how the Good Shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  The God who knows the stars by name also knows your name and mine.  Elsewhere Jesus added that he even knows the number of hairs upon our head. (Luke 12:7)  That’s pretty amazing, is it not?

I have no doubt that the moon and stars will continue to make me feel small and insignificant at times but they also serve as constant reminders that I am not insignificant at all.  The God who made them knows and loves me.  The God who made them knows and loves you too.  That knowledge is enough to drive a person to his or her knees.  It is at the same time enough to make one stand tall.

–Chuck

(I describe the top two images in the text.  I took the bottom image showing the Grand Canyon from Imperial Point several years ago.)