My family and I recently moved to a farm to be closer to the community that we are in ministry with. One of the things I love about it is the stillness and quietness of living in the country. There is still traffic that drives down the road as well as other connections to civilization, but there is also the sound of silence and a lack of city lights reflecting off of the atmosphere at night.
I paused to just look up as I was taking the trash down the long driveway. The dogs across the street were barking as they often do and there was a crisp chill to the air. Those things disappeared in that moment. I gazed into the clear night sky, engulfed in the wonder of my Creator. The stars that we see from the city are only a fraction of what is available in the night sky. Hidden behind the reflected city lights is a universe of awe and wonder.
Looking up at the night sky has been one of my favorite things to do at our family cabin. Getting away from the artificial light that marks cities and highways allows me a glimpse into the greatness of God. I saw my first shooting star as a child while laying on the porch of the cabin. It was more than just a simple streak across the sky. I lost count of how many I saw, and even now the memory is so vivid that it is like I am still there on the porch.
I remembered of the awe and wonder I had as a child on the porch of the cabin. The paradox of vast emptiness and abundance of celestial lights was overwhelmingly beautiful. I thought, maybe I can capture this moment with a long exposure on my phone, but my attempts were futile. I needed to just bask in moment of the experience and allow it to burn into my memory like that night of my childhood.
Our spiritual journey can be much like that. We experience mountaintop moments at retreats, conferences, and worship events. Our desire is to capture those moments and keep snapshots to look back on. We try to replicate the experience because of the connection we felt with the Holy Spirit. It’s not the same when we read through a journal entry or try to worship with our favorite song from the event. We might even get to the point of frustration because things feel different on the other side of the mountain. The Son brought warmth to the mountainside we ascended, but there is a damp chill to the air through the shadowy descent.
In those moments when we may feel lost in the shadows, we look back to the memories burned into our hearts from the mountaintop. The situation may have changed, but God has not changed. He is still the Father of unfailing love. Jesus still the Savior who became our sin so that we could become His righteousness. He is still the Holy Spirit who brings power and fills our hearts with holy fire. So we look back to the memories as a reminder of who He is, not to reminisce on where we were. We turn to Him and escape from the artificial world that brings stress and anxiety into the life He gives through His Holy Word.
There is a vast emptiness in the darkness of the world, but we have Abundant Light. God The Father, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit. The incredible starlit sky that I have experienced a number of times pales in comparison to the greatness of God. Sometimes I just need to look up and be reminded.