I’m technically on vacation. I’m not one who easily detaches from all of the things from which I should be vacating. But I find that I really need to disengage sometimes, just sit still and wait. It’s too easy to get caught up in rushing around, trying to get things done and thinking that I’m actually the one who’s controlling all of my circumstances. It’s easy to be delusional.
As I sat out on my driveway last night, looking up into the sky, it was quiet and dark. I couldn’t count the stars, there are too many of them for me to pursue such an undertaking. I didn’t even try to imagine what they were made of or how far away they were. I actually found myself thinking back to a passage in Isaiah 40. Many people think of Isaiah 40 and it conjures up images of an eagle because there are verses from which many derive great comfort and hope as they imagine themselves as those who are waiting upon the Lord, being raised up with wings as eagles.
But that wasn’t the passage that I was thinking about. I was actually thinking of the verses that fall earlier in the chapter, verses 25 and 26, which read, “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
I find myself presuming that I understand more than I really do. I can think that I have more wisdom and knowledge than I really do. If I have learned anything during my time in seminary, it’s that I still have so much more to learn. A friend said it well the other day, he has discovered just how much he doesn’t know as he has journeyed along through seminary. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that acknowledgement.
At the end of the movie “Grand Canyon,” a seemingly unrelated group of characters has come together through circumstances beyond their control. They have traveled to the Grand Canyon and as the camera pans away, they all look down upon the vastness that is the Grand Canyon. They seem so small as the camera slowly pulls away to reveal just how grand the Grand Canyon is.
The movie doesn’t necessarily end on a happy note, insinuating that we are simply cogs in a giant system that is far out of our control. I think God’s word through Isaiah gives a clearer and more hopeful picture. We may seem small, like cogs in a large machine, but each and every part is important and significant. If any of those parts were missing, the machine would not be able to perform the function for which it was made.
God understands the inner workings of the machine; he knows each and every part. He has placed each part there just as he has placed every part there just as he has placed each star in the sky. While we may look up at the sky with awe, wonder, and amazement, overwhelmed at the vastness and expanse of it, God has not only hung each of the stars there, but he has called each of them by name. Not one of them burns out or falls without his knowledge. Aren’t we more important than the stars? Aren’t we made in the very image of God?
Realizing the sheer immensity of the universe could easily cause one to dwell in doom and gloom, left to feel insignificant in comparison to such greatness, but God shows us a deeper sense of purpose, if we are willing to stop and listen.
I can make every effort and attempt to compare God to what I know, but I will come up short every time. He is the one who hung the stars in the sky. He is the one who has called them out by name. Not one of them moves, fall, or burns out without his knowing about it. I can barely remember the things that I need to do today and yet I presume that I know better than the One who holds all this in his hands.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take time to look up at the night sky. You will feel insignificant, but I hope and pray that you would eventually find purpose. The God of the universe who created all things has hung stars and knows their every move, surely he cares about you and me as well.