Thursday, December 9, 2010

Through the Mist, To the Stars

    Frances and I returned home this morning from visiting with our friend Jay in Maumelle, Arkansas, as mentioned in yesterday's devotional.
    We needed to be in Mobile by mid morning today, so we left Maumelle at 11:00 p.m. last night.  The first  75 miles or so was uneventful, and an excellent night for driving.  The weather was clear and very cold, and the traffic was light.  We settled in for an 8-9 drive, unsuspecting of the challenge and blessing that awaited us.
    First, the challenge.  Somewhere in southern Arkansas, we drove into an icy fog unlike anything we had ever seen.  Visibility was literally less than 10 feet, and the mist tossed and swirled in a manner that nearly precluded seeing beyond the hood of the car.  Had it been possible, we would have pulled over and not attempted to drive through the gloom.  We were on narrow, backroad highways, however, and there was little room on the shoulder of the roads.  Parking would have been dangerous because the near zero visibility could have caused an oncoming driver to come upon us with almost no forewarning before possibly crashing into us.  To make things more, shall we say, exhilarating, our GPS seemed to be affected by the atmospheric conditions.  Several times, the device either lost its signal, or went haywire with false readings.  We missed a turn at one point and had to backtrack to find a road that was completely invisible until you were right upon it.  The foggy conditions continued for nearly 100 miles, and we rarely were able to move at speeds more than 50 mph.
    Then, as suddenly as we drove into the icy shroud, we drove out of it.  You can imagine the relief we felt, and my grip on the wheel loosened as we set forth to freely make our way home.  Again, I've never driven in such conditions, and I hope never to do so again.  I never really felt fear or even much nervousness, but it was a moment by moment challenge to keep my eyes wide open for any object that might appear so quickly that I would have had instantly hit the brakes to avoid a collision.   
    After a few minutes of returning to a clear, cold, gorgeous night, Frances noticed through the windshield "how beautiful the stars are."  Since I was driving, however, I couldn't really see the scene she described.  "I'd almost like to stop the car and get out to look at them, " I commented.  "If it weren't so cold, I'd completely agree with you" responded Frances.
    I drove on for several minutes thinking about the stars, and then decided that this was an opportunity we couldn't miss.  Frances and I have lived our lives in the ambient light of the city where stargazing allows for very little real vision of the heavens.  In the middle of what seemed like nowhere, however, the only lumination for miles around was the headlights of our car.  I therefore pulled over to the side of the road, and we got of the car into the subfreezing temperatures and the quiet loneliness of a deserted - except for us - country highway.
    Then we looked up.  There really aren't words for the sight we beheld.  I'm sure that many of you have seen it.  The sky was literally dusted with stars.  Unlike our city night scenes where you can actually count the pinpoints of visible light, the darkness of a secluded country road unveiled to even the naked eye the vision of what must have been literally hundreds of thousands of stars.  They filled the sky almost like the mist we had just driven through.  The scene was overwhelming, and as tears streamed down our faces, we knew that God has chosen to bless us with an experience of His glory and wonder that we will never forget.
     "He made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16).  Seeming almost like an afterthought, Genesis tells us that the luminaries of the night sky are the handiwork of the Christ who declared, "I am the light of the world" (John 9:5).  Believers know this, of course, but appreciation of the glorious wonder requires at least some experience to even begin to fully appreciate.  Interestingly, however, darkness is also required to give us greater awareness of the stars' majesty and Maker.  The blacker the night, the brighter the stars.  For Frances and I last night, a long drive through a foggy, icy mist also provided backdrop for the gallery we were invited to behold.  I think our enjoyment of the starscene was all the more realized because of the challenge we faced in the mist.  Surely there's no need for me to provide spiritual commentary for this blessed suggestion.  You can easily draw your own.  Suffice it to say that we would have driven a thousand miles through that fog to have experienced our five minutes of beholding the firmament that so declares the glory of God.  Or, as the Apostle Paul declared...
"I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
(Romans 8:18)
"He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names" (Psalm 147:4).

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