I wasn’t very old when I became fascinated with what I saw in the sky. You look up at night and there is literally a masterpiece painted on the broad canvas of the celestial sphere. The beauty and vastness of God’s creation is on full display. I’ve often wondered how anyone could see that and not believe in God. Psalm 19 declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God!”
Taking it one step further, King David suggests that when we look to the stars it causes us to ponder our place in all of this. He says in Psalm 8, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what are we, that you are mindful of us and care for us?” It is a mystery and hard to comprehend.
It is kind of like the constellations themselves. When I first started looking at the stars, I was excited to find out that many of them formed shapes and had names. As a 10-year-old little boy I couldn’t wait to find the big bear (Ursa Major) or Orion the Hunter. Being born in June, I searched for the twins, Castor and Pollux. I figured Leo the lion should be easy to spot.
I bought a book on the constellations and started searching the skies. My book had pictures. The lion was ferocious. The twins were cute. The hunter was bold. The bear was formidable. The drawings were superimposed over the stars. When I looked up though, I couldn’t find any of the figures. The stars all appeared random with no set patterns like I was seeing in the book.
This all came back to me the other night. I sat outside enjoying the serenity of the moonlit night. We were on a mission trip. All week long I’d heard people sharing stories of how God had touched their lives. One person after another revealed the ways that God had led them down paths they never planned to travel and brought them to just the place that they needed to be.
It has been said that life is a journey. We think we know where we are going when we start off. You’ve probably heard the old Yiddish saying, “Der mensch tracht, un Gott lacht,” which means, “man plans, God laughs.” We may or may not get where we intended. We run into detours and often take the long way around. Yet, if we trust God, we will arrive where God wants us to be.
In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I don’t believe that the places we find ourselves in are an accident. George Washington would say it is the hand of God. Washington noted in his inaugural address that even though we can’t see it, God is guiding us on our way.
As I looked up at the stars, I realized that I couldn’t see the bear or lion or archer, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. I simply couldn’t see the lines that connected them. So it is with our lives. We may not be able to connect the dots but God can. He is in control and knows where we are going. So enjoy the journey because He is with us every step of the way.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.