I love to go camping. Often, we just sit outside after dark and look at the night sky. We like to do this especially when the sky is completely cloudless and the moon is bright, even if it is not full. On one occasion, we were several miles from the nearest city so ambient light was not much of an issue, and the stars were exceptionally beautiful.
Millennia ago, the Psalmist had occasion to sit outside and look at the heavens created by our God. His reflections are recorded in part in the Psalms. In Psalms 147:4-5 David wrote:
He [God] determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
Think about it … God, the creator who put the stars in the heavens in the first place (Genesis 1:16), not only created the stars but He has given them names. All of them – even the myriad of stars that we have not yet seen or contemplated. They are known to the Creator God.
As we gazed at the heavens in awe, praising God for His wondrous creation, we thought of Psalm 8:3-6:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man, that you are mindful of him, and the son of man, that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.
And again in Psalm 19:1 David says:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
In the hustle and bustle of our everyday life, sometimes God seems far away. This is particularly true when we are in the midst of the holiday season. It starts with the Thanksgiving Day feast, and all the family coming and going, with guests and friends stopping by as well. Then there is the decorating, cooking, baking, shopping, gift wrapping and cleaning in preparation for the onslaught at Christmas, not to mention the parties, gatherings, cookie swaps, etc. that require culinary expertise. Christmas day, the celebration of the Lord’s birth, is often almost anticlimactic in that we meet for Christmas eve, we feed the family on Christmas day, somewhere in that time period we open presents both given and received, and then climb into bed thanking God that the holidays are virtually over.
For many people, nowhere in the Christmas cacophony of sounds, events or meetings do they find the Christ Child. Nowhere do they experience the silence of the manger with the sleeping Child resting therein. Nowhere do they experience the awe that the shepherds felt when they heard the angelic announcement of the Babe’s birth. In short, the focus is far from the town of Bethlehem and the Babe who was born that night 2000 years ago. Simply put, many folks don’t have peace at Christmas even though that was the word used when the angels told Mary and the shepherds of the Babe’s coming.
If God seems to be far away from you, you don’t need an RV, camper or tent; you don’t need to go to a campground. If God seems far away from you, you don’t need to do more things, bake more cookies, be more active!
You just need to follow the railroad advice of yesteryear – Stop, Look and Listen. [The railroad crossing sign shown here is a “cast iron railroad crossing plaque sign stop look listen large heavy sign” as posted on ebay after a search for same on December 29, 2015.]
Stop – all the frenetic activity.
Look ‐‐ go outside on a clear night and look up at the glories that God has given us to enjoy or look at the creative detail in a flower or, better yet, look in on your sleeping child. Look into His Word and read the promises made to you by the God who created all things, including those beautiful stars..
Listen – hear Him speak to you as you praise Him in reverence (awe) and thankfulness for His wonderful works to the children of men, and that includes you and me!
Praise His Glorious Name!
Father, forgive me when I have let the activities and cares of the world overwhelm me. Forgive me when my desire to spend time with you is snuffed out by the loud calls of the world demanding attention. When I am struggling to find you, Father, give me wisdom to Stop, Look and Listen so that I will hear your Spirit speaking comfort, guidance and love into my pacing heart. Remind me, Father, that you are not far from me … if there is a distance between us, it is due to sin of which I have not repented. Give me the strength to repent, and draw me close to you through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ your Son and my Savior, I pray.