Some of the most profoundly peaceful moments of my life have been in the stillness of the night gazing up at the stars. Looking endlessly towards giant balls of gas billions of miles away can bring about feelings of wonder, awe, and humility.
When star-gazing, I sometimes find myself getting lost in the beauty and magnitude of the sky. I stare in amazement of how much is beyond the small patch of earth upon which I stand. I feel both the significance and insignificance of my existence summarized so well in Psalm 8:
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?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor. (Ps 8:3-5)
Star-gazing can be so inspiring, thought provoking and perspective changing that one can get utterly lost when looking at the stars on a clear night. The expanse of space and sky can draw a person in such that all sense of time is lost. And when you finally look back down at the earth, you realize that hours have passed during what felt like minutes. You further realize that while lost in the stars, life continues here on earth.
Scripture speaks of some star-gazers who learn a similar lesson:
So when they had come together, [the apostles] asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)
The apostles got caught star-gazing for Jesus. Two men in white robes catch them and call the out: “Why are you star-gazing? Jesus was taken up into the stars, but he will be back!” (Paraphrase) In other words, “Stop just looking up for Jesus. You’ll find him right down here on earth if you will look around you. He will be back in ways that you will never expect…because that is just how he came!”
I think we Christians are often guilty of this same mistake. We look up to heaven for Jesus far too much when we would do better to seek him out right here on earth. Perhaps we should look at the amazing things happening all around us to discover how the Way of Jesus is present in the living actions of folks right before our eyes.
You might find Jesus in the work of a modern day prophet or teacher. You might find Jesus alive and well in the ministry of a friend or fellow church member. You might discover Jesus living within your own actions. And it if those two men in white robes are correct, you will definitely find Jesus through someone or something you least expect.
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