A Burning Vision – Stars in the Dark

Photo by The Ian, found on Unsplash


Sometimes the echoes of the Garden shout. Sometimes even loud enough to drown out all the sorrows and despairs, and all is right with the world. 

Sometimes just getting out of bed is more than we can handle.

Some days the goodness of God leaps out from every bush, every tendril of steam lifting from your hot cup of tea, each smile from the stranger in the street; even the sunbeams seem to carry the smile of God.

Some days a casual “How are you?” makes you want to break down in tears, and it seems impossible to answer. Some days God doesn’t seem to be there, or if He is He can’t be caring and loving; not with that circumstance playing in your life. 

We are malleable, changeable people. What is worse we live in a malleable, changeable world that is tainted and cursed by sin. The echoes of the Garden still sing. But the screams of the evil ones often drown it out. 

What do you do when God is silent? How do you still believe when everything collapses around you and nothing but the evil stays standing? Is there something to still hold to when everything you love and know is stripped from your life?

~~~

Eleven years ago I wrote a book with three main characters learning to rely on a single thread. It is spidery-thin, and hard to cling to through the dark, and sometimes even harder to find in the light.

It is a thread tied to heaven’s throne, and it will never break.

Then you look up, following that slender thread to its source, and see heaven, and the Occupants of heaven’s thrones…that’s the source of a Christian’s unbreakable strength. When we focus on our heavenly home, on our end goal, everything around us fades, and then comes back into focus with different colors. We can refocus on what is important after gazing into eternity, after remembering what we are headed toward. We will get there. We will live on, forever and ever, in joy and goodness. We will be with Jesus! For the saved, this is a solid reality. It might seem thin sometimes amidst the whirling world we live in now, but it is as solid as any mountain. No, more solid than a mountain; mountains crumble, and this whole earth will pass away and be remade. But once Jesus holds us as His own, our heavenly security never changes. We will reach heaven’s throne.

This is our goal. This is our end. This is our anchor. This is what we cling to, no matter what comes and goes around us. 

Circumstances change. The opinions of the world change. But God doesn’t. He is waiting for us in heaven, and will weigh every deed here. Will our greeting there be, “Well done!” or something too dreadful to contemplate? What we are doing now, at this very second, will be measured in eternity. Will it count as time wasted? Or will it be spent in something that will last on into eternity?

Focus on the beautiful vision of where we are headed. Keep that vision burning in your mind’s eye and everything around us takes on a different luster, and a different beauty. Sin looks uglier. Goodness becomes blinding. Beauty sings of her Creator. The people around us look different when we remember each one has a soul that will last forever; our attitude toward them certainly shifts. When we keep the vision of our heavenly goal before us, all of life moves and changes, and the path onward becomes clearer and (in a way) much easier.

Each character in my book found this truth, and lived it. But each one took on a different aspect of this same idea. That book broke into three, and then into six different works. Now, with the first of the series due to release next month, I want to take you with me to look at these three different ways to view a single truth. I looked briefly at the aspect of joy in my last post. Today we focus on a different thought…

~~~

The stars lift our hearts and souls toward heaven. For millennia, as long as mankind has lived, the stars have been a gateway for the soul into higher and bigger things. The gods always live amongst the stars in the old myths. The higher beings of the new atheistic myths still live among the stars. When we look up at all the starry, twinkling hosts, we realize how small we are, how insignificant, and something in us cries out to the Greater One who made those burning balls of fire. We are drawn heavenward, God-ward, when we look at the stars. 

You can’t see the stars in the light.

During the day, every ball of fire is hidden away. In the same way, on the happy, sun-filled days it can be hard to remember God. When everything is going our way, when life has handed us all that we need, contentment seems to be here. A part of us wonders, “Why do I need heaven? I have all I need.” It can be harder to focus on what really matters when we are really happy.

But take it all away…

In the dark only the light matters. When we are shaken to our cores, our foundations become more important than any nick-nacks on the shelves around us. When things go wrong, that’s when we cry out to God.

And sometimes He still doesn’t seem to answer.

The dark can stretch on. God doesn’t always choose to pierce through it and rescue His people immediately. Not every situation ends like Daniel’s fate in the Lions’ Den. The heavens can remain silent, no matter how much pleading we pour into it. If you’re a Christian and the dark just never seems to break, remember one thing.

This is not our end.

We are travelers.

We are pilgrims.

We are sojourners. 

We are sojourning to our home.

Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. If that wasn’t the case, He would have told us. Remember? That’s the key. Remember. Remember that no matter how dark it gets here, no matter how silent, and lonely, no matter how many prayers go unanswered… This life is not the end. This life is only the first chapter, only the cover page, of our real story. And yes, I shamelessly stole that from Lewis. Maybe you need to go reread The Last Battle. It is a book that helps us remember. No matter how much we lose, or how horrible our lives here become, we have a vision of better things in our mind’s eye. We have a solid foundation, a hope that never leaves, a burning Love drawing us home.

Here, the dark can seem as if it’s winning. It can be overwhelming, feel all-encompassing, a flood washing through us and killing everything good. But in our real home, there are no stars. There is no moon, or even sun. Those sparkling lights aren’t needed. The Lamb is there. And He is light. We serve a God who has told us, “I am the light.” He has already defeated death and hell, and when He steps on the scene darkness explodes and dissipates. And we will live with Him forever. Even more than that, He is living in us right now! We are created and born again, chosen, to be His light here and now. Comfort yourself with these words.[1]

One more thing. Whether we feel an answer or not doesn't really matter. Truth stands despite us. God still lives whether we feel Him or not. He still holds us, and His promises don't waver or change. They are anchored to heaven and bound by blood-bought chains to our souls. We cannot be lost. We might feel lost, and that feeling certainly affects us. But it doesn't change God. He is the unchangeable One; and He holds you fast.[2]

We have a heavenly home. It is sure, it never shifts or changes, no matter what else comes or goes. We will reach Jesus, face to face. When we keep that vision burning in front of us we can endure whatever might come our way. This is the only solid thing to cling to. We have a sure hope, sealed by blood, held firm by the unchangeable God. We have a home. And we aren’t there yet.

Remember you are a sojourner.

Remember where you belong.

Remember you are here to remind others of the hope beyond the stars.

 

[1] Verses referred to in this paragraph, in order they appear: Revelation 21:23, John 8:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Matthew 5:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:18.

[2] “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” – 1 Timothy 2:13

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