When the Stars Come Out

Mark and Katy were living a happy life in our community and church when they were abruptly uprooted and transferred to a remote, thinly-populated outpost in Alberta, Canada.

I stopped by to spend a night with them when a trip took me that way. We talked and laughed late into the night. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tear trickle down Katy’s cheek.

Before heading to bed, I stepped outside and was mesmerized by a breathtaking view of a pitch-black sky festooned with thousands of shimmering stars. Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t alone—Katy was leaning against the porch railing, gazing at the same sky.

“Homesick?” I asked.

“Terribly!” she said. “I miss my friends and my church. This is so far from home I feel like I’m on a different planet.

“I come out here almost every night,” Katy said. “I like it when the stars come out; they connect me with my friends back home because they are the same stars we used to look at together. We have a pact that we will still look at these stars together—they there, me here—and think of each other.”

Centuries ago, a prophet thought the stars provided good medicine for homesick hearts. He pointed exiled and dejected people to the stars: “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” (Isaiah 40:26). The stars that looked down on those homesick captives in Babylon were the very same stars they had looked up at as they strolled the streets of Jerusalem in their beloved homeland.

The stars in the sweep of Katy’s view not only connected the lonely station where she was living with the hometown she had left behind; they also linked her with ages past, for they were the same stars that looked down on those who went before her.

Go outside tonight and look at the stars. Your parents and grandparents looked at the very same stars.

And long before your grandpa and grandma lifted their eyes to look at them, Jesus stepped out the door of his Nazareth carpenter shop, raised his eyes toward home, and saw the very same stars. Moses, too, saw the same stars as he trudged the desert sands between Egypt and Canaan.

When you look at the stars, you’re gazing into a distant past. According to Benjamin Burress, an astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California, the farthest star visible to the naked eye is a little over 4,000 light years away, in the constellation Cassiopeia. Speeding at 186,300 miles per second, it has taken the light of that star 4,000 years to make its way from there to here. Think of it! You are seeing the light from that star, not as it is now, but as it was on that day 4,000 years ago when God said to Abraham, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” (Genesis 15:5).

Stunned by the stars, the psalmist said: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4).

What are you that God is mindful of you and cares for you? Just this, he thought of you and chose you before he created the world—and before he hurled the first star into space. You mean more than the world and the stars to him. You mean everything to him.

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