Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stars and Promises

Last night I went down the road to my aunt’s house. As I stepped out the door, I threw my head back and took a great breath of the cold night air, hoping it would help to cool the friction of a mind moving too quickly. As I let out my breath, a cloud of steam shot up into the night, and for a moment, the brilliant stars were obscured. But when it evaporated, I could see that they truly were brilliant, shining with intense, colorless light that looked more like the cold flash of diamonds than fiery infernos reposed in space. As I walked down the road, my head thrown back to see the sky, and my feet finding their own way on the pavement, I began to think how God’s promises are like stars.

There they are, glinting and flashing in glorious beauty, those “precious and magnificent promises,” never changing, and so precise that we can set the course of our lives by them. The old-time sailor, lost on a hiccupping sea, had only to catch a glimpse of the stars, and he knew where he was, and where to steer. He trusted his whole life upon the stars, and because they were unchanging, he was safe, no matter how bewildering his circumstances. Sometimes God gives us a promise that is our soul’s only sure hope, amid the confusion and clatter of life. This summer, as I faced numerous big decisions, the star by which I set my course was Psalm 25:12, “Who is the man who fears [reveres] the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.” When I felt lost in swirling perplexities, that star shone steady and bright, and brought me out to a place where I could see my way clearly.

The stars never change—but their beauty and steadfastness is never known until darkness falls. The darker the night, the more stars emerge from the blackness, and the more brilliantly they shine. There are promises of God that never become real to us until we need them. Then, as we turn in desperation to God’s Word, we find that, on every page, He has sown more promises than we ever dreamed of, which together meet perfectly every single need that we have. And the darker that circumstances become, the more precious and magnificent those promises are to us.

Strange, then, that we so often allow those promises to be obscured by the steam of our own breath.

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