Make Sure They See The Stars
Perhaps a dozen years ago, I arranged for the whole family to assemble at our little getaway in the country we called “the farm.” We had remodeled an old house originally constructed in the 1860s, and fashioned a deck off the second story that faced northeast. It was the perfect place to escape the destructive lights of the city and view a dark sky peppered with stars. Looking at the stars was the sole purpose for our family rendezvous that night. Astronomers had announced a late August meteorite shower: shooting stars falling into the atmosphere at the rate of several hundred a minute. I wanted the family to enjoy it together. We spent most of the night on the deck with hot chocolate and snacks enjoying the screams as we shouted, “Look at that! Wow, that one came so close!” We have never forgotten the spectacular display we all witnessed together that night.
I read recently about the concerns of an urban schoolteacher who noted that most her students have never seen a dark sky filled with dazzling stars. Light pollution in the big cities has made the mind-numbing display of creative power that has amazed mankind since the beginning of humanity basically unknown to them. Their only experience with a night sky filled with the beautiful display of sparkling lights is reduced to what they might have seen in a book or watched on a video. The artificial lights of the city have blocked their view. The lesser light of the city has become a destructive force, and they have no sense of the vastness of the lights in the sky.
Personally, I cannot express the spiritual impact that viewing the mysterious star-filled sky had on me and my life when I was a young boy. It was the lights of God. The awesomeness of His creation pulled at my soul. The wonderment I experienced as a boy staring at that glorious canopy lives in me still.
What deeply concerns me most is similar to the teacher’s concerns about her students never seeing the starry sky. There are those today who are living under artificial, self-generated light and who are completely oblivious to the pollution that hides the wonder above. They are completely unaware that they are being shielded from the fullness of the divine mysteries that are just outside.
Is the church susceptible to living under the effects of Satan’s polluting agenda that blocks our vision and our ability to see the power of God’s hand? Are we falling prey to the temptation to add our own “light” that comes from an egocentric sense of our own brilliance? Do we substitute ideas of our own illumination for the anointed direction of God?
Will we end up creating a man-made church? Will we trade God’s church for one of our own hand like the bishops at the Council of Nicaea who established their own opinions as the highest authority? They ignored the teachings of Jesus, who made it clear that he was God manifest in flesh, thus God’s revelation of himself to man. The gospel writers had no other concept of Jesus. But the bishops gave the world the doctrine of the Trinity. Separated from truth, they accepted their own self-imposed concepts of God and gradually assumed all authority. They gave themselves to enforcement, and over time they committed despicable acts of exile and torture against any who resisted their authority.
It’s never long after men set their own agendas that reality sets in. Failure stalks the arrogant. Blind lead the blind. The artificial supplants the real. The true sky is hidden beyond a haze of manmade light bouncing off his own smog, tenting him – shielding his soul from the blaze of glory that emanates from God’s great heaven. As Apostolics, we may still be holding to our doctrines, our core beliefs; but Satan is clever. He knows where to strike. Perhaps he doesn’t need to get us to change our beliefs or water down our doctrine if he can hide the true Holy Ghost power behind our own arrogance and egocentrism. We tolerate too much “theater church.” We are too comfortable in services where it’s all a performance – a constructed, predictable format – devoid of anointing, fire or divine revelation and insight. We’ve obstructed the view to the heavenly. Remember, once the apostles saw the light, they did not turn back.
What if someday we realize our children have never seen the stars? That they have never experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? What if they never experience the power of truth? What if they never develop the deep conviction of the heart that prefers death to compromise? Will we lose the faith because we forgot to show the next generation the stars?
That night we went to the farm to see the meteor shower was a big deal. We woke the kids up in the middle of the night, grabbed extra blankets, and drove the 30 or so miles from our houses in the city out to the Indiana cornfield. It took some effort. It took some planning. We could have stayed in our warm beds, got a good night’s rest. But … I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything. Sometimes you just have to make sure the next generation sees the stars!