Starry Skies

It was almost bedtime when our son, Marc, casually appeared at our doorway that Wednesday evening, August 8, 2018 at nine o'clock. We were on summer vacation and visiting with his family in Georgetown, Texas. He said, "Dad, I want you and mom to come outside for a minute." I was more than a little curious. Soon it became apparent that Monique and I were joining others on planet earth who were stargazing and viewing the heavens at a  truly timely occasion when a unique phenomenon was occurring in the Milky Way.

On this special night, we were able to clearly view four of the six planets that were visible to the naked eye for those observing in the southern states. It was, in many ways, a miracle of the perfect convergence of planetary alignment and clear night skies that synced with our earnest attention and the use of an app on Marc's smart phone that served as our "telescope."

Venus was so clear it was almost blinding in its radiance. Mars was sharply and so prominently visible that we could clearly detect its famous redness! Other planets were also in view... Saturn and Jupiter. The night promised that Neptune and Uranus would also come into focus as well. To top it off, there was the splendid crescent moon arching upward in our part of the cosmos as well!
Marc's Photo of Venus August 30, 2018

I had never seen anything like this! I told Marc that this was "a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me!" I thought immediately of the Psalmist who declared, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him? ... You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands... O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:3-4a, 6, 9).

I went to bed that night declaring, "Indeed! Praise the Lord of all creation!" The next morning, Marc and I were up at daybreak and enjoying our bowl of cereal out on the porch. We were still declaring the Creator's excellence!! What a night to remember! What a morning to celebrate! The moon was barely visible high in the sky at 5:30 AM, but that crescent moon was still "scooping up" the Father's blessings and glory! And to top it all - Mars, like a pin-point star, was still visible in the morning dawn!

Long ago, the Magi followed a star to the house where baby Jesus was being swaddled by Mary and Joseph. It was a miracle of specific and localized guidance from a traveling star! When these learned astrologers came into the presence of the Christ Child they bowed down in worship and were filled with great joy before him. They offered Him their treasured gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-11).

Throughout history, God has guided His people in various ways: some by clouds at day and fire by night, and others through dreams and visions. Most of us today receive our guidance by His written Word. But these seekers of old found the One "born King of the Jews" (Mt. 2:2) through the mapping of a supernatural star that charted a path for them and led them with Sovereign precision to their destination.

I am still amazed at God's creative work on a starlit night. I feel so small as I gaze upward! Yet, I exclaim, "How great is our God in all the earth!" He knows each of us and leads us like a Shepherd in the right paths for His namesake! Look up once in a while! Get lost in the wonder of the night sky! It will give you a great vision of our Great God!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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