While I am on a blogging sabbatical, Sherry Rossman has written on my behalf. Enjoy her story! More of her stories can be found here.
My mom liked to gather us together at night to watch the stars. We could either grab the blue-tattered quilt and spread it over the grass or lay on top of the upturned fishing boat. The grass was infested with goat-heads and creepy desert crawlies, so we preferred the boat.
In the country you can see them all — the twinkles, the comets, and those distant lights that barely glow. I learned how to spot the Big Dipper, the Milky Way and a few others before we outgrew the boat.
How many times I remember searching for Santa and his sleigh.
Sometimes I imagined the comets landing nearby, and worried. The same night that brought wonder brought fear as well. If one landed too close, we’d become the coal that sits in the naughty kid’s stocking. Does God control the comets?
In the winter, we watched the stars through the window with the fireplace lighting up the dark desert nights. That’s one thing when the homes are sparse and streetlights are the stuff of movies…the nights are endless black. The moon creeps out once a month to paint its silver magic, highlighting the curves of unfurled branches and pointed roofs and then fades into the deep once again.
The darkness, the hills, the small canyon that resided around us echoed with haunted sounds. Coyotes pierced the night with wild howls, javelina hooves broke through my dreams in magnifying volumes. What were wild pigs became a herd of wild night beasts, horse-sized, carving a hooved trail outside my bedroom.
I still haven’t figured out the mournful cry, deep and long that woke me up occasionally. A peek out the window only showed me night.
But the stars shined on us, the same stars that twinkled above the safety of the fishing boat and Mom’s quilt.
I wished they could tell me their secrets. What do they see that is hidden from the rest of us? What are the creepies that howl themselves into my nightmares?
How does Santa’s reindeer manage the predators?
How can the good and the bad occupy the same dark night?
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Psalm 19: 1-2
My little girl sleeps with a stuffed bear that illuminates a night sky onto her ceiling. The stars shift from green to blue to yellow. They lull her to sleep, keeping the goodness of night on her mind as she enters the darkness.
She wonders at the beautiful stars when traveling in the car at night. “Is that a shooting star, Mommy? Can we see any planets tonight? Can we see Rudolf from here?”
The press release she brings home from school is that comet that could have crashed into us. I thank God over and over as I scan black ink that says something like: “Former student had over 100 rounds of ammunition. With cooperation from the local police and others we have apprehended the person who planned on opening fire on the school.”
And I thank God again that my daughter hasn’t read it. She only sees the stars that shine through the darkness while hundreds of parents try to keep the darkness from becoming nightmares.
I start to wonder about God’s plans and the stars from that Psalm verse that pour forth speech.
We all need some God speech, especially when hearts drop and the deep threatens to burn us to coal.
So I study.
It’s a lawyer on a DVD telling me about his own curiosity. The star of Bethlehem and all the possibilities invade his days and nights – the idea won’t leave him alone, so he starts to research. “I’m no astronomer”, he says, but he was compelled. So he became a student once again. He dug into astronomy, the Bible, and he found it.
The stars don’t just twinkle. They don’t just accompany the howls and comets of the night. And this one tells an amazing story. THE story.
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2: 9
The lawyer goes on to explain how he purchased a hi-tech astronomy program called Starry Night. It’s highly advanced, using Keppler’s laws of planetary motion. He found out that the star was actually two, and they didn’t just display glory for the wise men. They speak to us, today. Using the program, he was able to pinpoint the day that the star stopped. December 25th 2BC. That date would mean nothing at that time…but it would to a society with advanced technology and a December 25th holiday.
He started talking about The Hubble and all the cool sights we get to see now because of it. My ears pricked up because my Dad got to work on The Hubble and the fact that a gunsmith with limited education worked hard enough to literally reach the stars is my constant encouragement to reach for a few of my own. So he talks about the stars again, the sun, the blood moon, and how the sky danced as poetry – showing the star gazers knowledge of Christ’s coming.
But the most amazing to me was the Ram.
The stars formed into the Ram (Aries) on April 3rd, 33 AD, the day of the cross. And at the heart of the Ram? The earth.
God’s heart is full of love for us.
This could only be seen from the direction of the moon. Thanks to the Hubble, we know that God uses the stars to speak to us now.
So there are times when we fall into the deep, finding ourselves in the sights of danger.
And sometimes the comets get too close.
But God has not left us and He is sovereign over the sky, the comets are not.
It’s not possible to drown in the fray of night when God is filling it with his beautiful story.