Growing up in Africa was a wonderful, indescribable experience … surrounded by the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. One thing forever etched into my memory about Africa was the night sky. I hadn’t really considered Africa’s night sky in some time, but going back there with my parents and my children this past summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the work my parents had started when I was just a baby, I found myself once again looking up at the wonder that is the heavens in their intended glory with the stars, the moon, the galaxy all glowing in indescribable splendor. Africa’s night sky is a stargazer’s paradise, always on travel guides’ lists for where to best see the clarity of the sky without the hindrance of modern light and air pollution.
Recently, an article headline caught my attention: “Just one in 50 people can see stars as nature intended because the night skies are being masked under veil of light pollution.” The shocking headline was followed by these facts compiled by the British Astronomical Association: only two percent of the UK are able to view truly dark skies. More than half of us cannot count more than 120 stars, and those living in major cities are often unable to see any stars at all. In a truly dark sky, one should be able to see around 4,000 stars – a small fraction of all the stars in the universe which are estimated at one quadrillion (one followed by 24 zeroes) (Dailymail.com).
Our modern existence always comes at a tradeoff. Convenience, ease, productivity are valued commodities, and it’s so easy to forget what we lose when they become our priority. Only one in 50 can see God’s creation as intended because it’s been polluted by what seems like necessities in today’s world. We certainly can’t turn off the lights. We can’t halt progress. The big lights, big cities have their own beauty, right? We can’t go back to the dark ages. How ridiculous!
I get it … But I also stood quietly outside the tents in the dusty field where thousands had gathered at the African crusade, where some had walked for miles. They were sleeping on the ground; they were sacrificing everything they could just to be in the presence of God. I stood outside those tents and looked up to a sky that glowed brightly with God’s creation. You could see the stunning constellations, countless stars and the big glowing moon. It was all there; it was beautiful, it was uncorrupted. It was clear.
I ask us … What could we see, what would become clear if we could remove the corruption and pollution of our frail human wisdom? I pray – God, let me see the world, let me see ministry, let me see this Gospel as You intended, in all its glory and beauty.