Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wife Rule #62: Count the Stars

I just noticed that my last four Wife Rules have revolved around food. I think it's obvious to all of us that I can blame this unhealthy gastronomic obsession on those wretched PROMISES® messages (latest gag reflex triggered by "Smile at yourself in the mirror." I tried it. It was amazing!). In an effort to bring some closure to this issue, I am coming full-circle and discussing the one and only PROMISES® message I have come across that I actually like:

Count the stars.

I have always loved stargazing. I have nostalgic memories of laying out in my back yard as a child, most of me nestled into my sleeping bag, my arms ticked by icy cold blades of grass, my face exposed to the cool night air, and my eyes staring into the starry heavens. Sometimes I would make my own constellations, or count shooting stars, or just wonder at the sheer immensity of space with its millions of tiny, sparkling lights.

Count the stars.

I have continued the tradition with my own children, except that now we lay out on the trampoline, sans grass and its accompanying dew in the morning. We typically settle into our sleeping bags at dusk, and watch as the stars appear, one by one. We scan the sky, we point, we wish, we bond, and we count.

Count the stars.

My wife was born in a rural, high mountain valley, and when we visit her childhood home we usually arrive after dark. I am consistently amazed at the brightness of the stars that first night, which inevitably catch my eye when I step out of the car to do my post-driving stretch and neck roll. I never anticipate the view I will have; the full splendor of the glowing heavens, undimmed by city lights, fills me with wonder.

The Milky Way, a peaceful river of hazy light, stretches from horizon to horizon. The number of stars seems to explode here, and I long for the old days, before we were so artificially lit up and mentally insulated from the unfathomable, gaping expanse of the universe; a time when the stars served as constant reminders of just how small we really are, technology and all.

Count the stars.

I think of the promises given to Abraham and Sarah, the ancient archetypes of fatherhood and motherhood, which all parents should look to as examples. Genesis 15:5 records what the Lord covenanted with Abraham:

"Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."

Think of it, God has endowed His children with a fountain of life-potential that never has to end. When He asked Abraham to count the stars, it wasn't an exercise in arithmetic; it was an illustration of the infinite. It was a declaration of the endless possibilities--the eternal life--that was there for Abraham and Sarah to lay hold on, should they prove their faithfulness. And they did.

Count the stars.

I read with interest an article in a scientific magazine discussing the Hubble telescope's exploration into Deep Space--those pockets of blackness that have been believed by some to be empty. They wondered if by looking through the most powerful magnification instrument ever built by mankind, they might find the place where the sidewalk ends, where the universe runs out.

They were astounded at what they saw.

There was no emptiness, no edge of existence. They saw with their own eyes that creation goes on and on, brilliant and ordered and more expansive than we will ever be able to see, apparently without end. One of the scientists quoted in the article, a professed atheist, conceded that such a revelation has caused her to question her beliefs.

And yet, with the grandness of the scope of God's creations, "He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names" (Psalm 147:4).

Because He made them. He knows them. They are His. Just like us.

Count the stars.

As my wife and I struggle through life together, it is comforting to know that our Father in Heaven is aware of us individually, so much more than He is aware of the seemingly countless stars, which He also numbers and names. After all, every star will eventually burn out, but an eternal soul never dies. We will each outlast them all, worlds without end.

So we plod along in faith, with only hints into infinite concepts that our mortal minds don't currently comprehend. It doesn't really matter: for now, we are to work together, to do the very best we can, to prove ourselves worthy of a far greater responsibility someday, like Abraham and Sarah did.

And to remind us of our possibilities and purpose, we can always pause to count the stars.

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