Last night the sky was awesome. A phosphorescent slip of a moon blazed, luminous in the night sky. And in a rare appearance three planets: Mars, Venus, and Saturn all gleamed brightly. It was incredible. Sadly the ‘light-pollution’ of major urban areas like Toronto all-too-often rules out a lot of star-gazing. But where I grew up on the wide open prairies of Saskatchewan the sky at night was a star-studded wonder! The velvety black curtain was literally powdered with uncountable stars of all sizes. The Milky Way was a broad stellar highway across the heavens and the constellations hung down close enough to reach up and touch. And the Aurora Borealis danced among the stars in a shimmering gown of iridescence.
In fact, it was one of the things that finally turned my heart to God. When all the local kids would gather around a fire to party late into the night, everyone more intent on getting a girl into a backseat then on astronomy – I would sit back from the glare of the fire and gaze into the heavens. I was captivated by the immensity of it all. I could not stop wondering how it all got there. And why. So vast… so infinite. “There has to be a god”, I would argue with anyone who would listen. But they all seemed more interested in the earthly bodies than the heavenly.
Thirty years on (OK, closer to forty!) things haven’t changed that much. Not in the sky at any rate. The same stars continue to wheel inexorably by in their silent, eternal paths. But people haven’t changed much either – still wrapped up in earthly things. Obsessed with the insignificant. Frantically chasing after earth-bound distractions, careers, obligations, and fantasies. No one ever seems to just stop and look up.
Maybe that’s what was going on with Abraham in Genesis 15. Instead of fussing about the weather, the camel market, or the latest soiree in Sodom, Abraham stopped, gazed up into the heavens and pondered life’s big questions. That’s where God met him, and that’s where God spoke to him. I always say that our biggest enemy (next to our bad memorys!) isn’t the world, the flesh, or the Devil. It’s our own busyness. Run, run, run! Go, go, go! Hustle, hustle, hustle! More, more, more!
I thank God that I was able to grow up under those wide prairie skies. It taught me about the silliness of running around ‘like a chicken with my head cut off’ – and to stop and think about life, purpose, destiny, and eternity. I became convinced that there had to be more to life than just another party, another job, another marriage, another funeral. I had questions that none of those things could answer. And most of my friends didn’t even want to hear the questions let alone join me to search for the answers. But I had to know.
My search eventually led me away from the firelight, away from the drunken crowd, and away from the broad road. It led me past the fields of science, through the gloomy forests of philosophy, and down the tangled pathways of spiritualism. It led me finally to the Bible. The Psalmist said, “When I consider the heavens…” Paul wrote in Romans that all we need to know of God can be deduced by observing “the things that are made”.
It’s all right there in front of us! If only we would just… stop. Look. Think.