The heavens are a beautiful, miraculous and astounding creation. One of the greatest benefits of living in the country is being able to look out in the dark nights and see the beauty and majesty of the moon and the stars.
The night sky reminds me of the greatness of God's power, but it also reminds of His love for each of us. When you think about it, God did not need to create the heavens for His benefit--just as He did not need to create the oceans and beaches, a beautiful waterfall, the forests, rainbows, butterflies or the mountains. The God who created and sustains the heavens and the earth loves you and me so much that He would create such things just to bless us and to show us His majesty!
As I write this (in mid-August), we just experienced two nights of meteor showers that superseded anything like it in recent years. It was the result of pieces of the Swift Tuffle Comet coming through the earth's atmosphere at a speed of 133,000 mph which causes them to burn up upon entry. In the right place at the right time, you could observe over 100 meteors or falling stars per hour in the night sky.
It was quite a sight! There was no moonlight which made the stars appear much brighter than usual. The sky was crystal clear. Lying down on the ground, I saw thousands of stars shining as radiantly as I have ever seen them. It had been a very hot and humid week, but this particular morning there was a cool, gentle north breeze that put a slight feel of fall in the air. Everything was as quite as could be at 3:30 in the morning except for the distant lowing of a cow.
As I lay there, I began to see first one, then another, and soon a series of falling stars streaking through the celestial canopy. They traveled in different directions, some brighter and longer than others, but all uniquely beautiful.
The Bible compares the numbers of the stars in the heavens to the grains of sand on the seashores. Who can count them? Yet, the Bible also tells us that not only did God create them, but that He has counted them, put them all in their place and named each one. (Gen 1, Ps 8, Ps 147). I wonder what He thinks when He watches one of them fall!
This brings me to my last thoughts as I watched the recent meteor shower. The Bible teaches that in the last days there will be a great falling away from the faith. We see this in our world and even in our own culture like we never have before. How many "stars of the faith" are in danger of falling away from right relationship with God? How does God feel when they fall? Could I be one of those that fall away? Could I be one that causes others to fall? What can I do to prevent it?
When I say 'stars of the faith' you may think that I am referring to some TV evangelist, but actually I am thinking about everyday professing believers like you and me. We all have a tendency to drift, and if we are not careful, are in danger of falling away from right relationship with God. It could be that we completely fall away from our faith in Christ or it could be that we just become so anemic in our faith that our light no longer shines into a dark world.
There is always someone who is looking up to us as their spiritual 'star' or mentor. How are they affected when we fall away or grow cold? Just like the star in the heavens, there was a time when we were in the center of God's will letting our light shine before man, but now, somehow, we are streaking across the sky in a nosedive of complacency, compromise, hopelessness, discouragement or sinful self-destruction. How did we get into this kind of shape? Will our witness that they remember be the many years we were faithful and fruitful for the Kingdom, or the last days when we lost hope or stepped into a lifestyle of sin and fell away? Will the last words we hear the Lord say to us be: "Well done my good and faithful servant" or 'Depart from me I never knew you"?
As terrible as it would be to fall away from the faith, I think it would be even a greater tragedy if along the way we caused others to stumble or fall away because of our own sinful actions or words. Jesus addressed this very thing: "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves!"
In a sense, little ones can mean children. In another sense, it can mean anyone who is growing or who could be growing in their faith and who is under our care or our circle of influence. This could be anyone who is watching us and who is influenced by our faith or the lack of it. We are all witnesses whether we want to be or not. The only question is whether we will point others to faith in Jesus or away from Him. If we allow ourselves to drift away and fall, we will inevitably bring others down with us! It is one thing to drive off of a cliff, but it's something else to drive off a cliff with passengers!
The Lord knows us and everything about us—nothing is hidden from His sight. Jesus himself was tempted in every way. Though He remained sinless, He understands our temptations but has also promised to deliver us from our temptations if we walk with Him. He is faithful and able to keep us, sustain us, and deliver us from every evil that comes our way. Even when we find ourselves falling away from Him at the pace of a shooting star, He is reaching out to and holding on to us so that we can be restored the very moment we confess our sin and return to Him! Yet, He warns us to 'pay attention to ourselves' and to walk closely with Him. This is the only way we can guard against falling away or causing others to fall. If we stay fresh in Jesus, we can rest knowing that He is faithful to hold on to us and to sustain us until His return.
Father, thank you for loving and caring enough for me to know everything about me at any given moment. Thank you Holy Spirit for exposing to me what I either cannot or do not want to see about myself. Thank you for drawing me back to Jesus—even when you have to catch me in a freefall. Thank you Jesus for dying in my place for my sin so that I can have hope and peace in this life and the assurance of everlasting life. Forgive me for the times I have caused others to stumble or fall away from you. Restore them dear Father just as you restore me. Help us all to finish strong and to live our lives to bring you the honor and glory that is yours alone. Empower and embolden us so that when we meet you, we will have passengers! Finally, thank you for the beauty and the majesty of your glorious creation that points us back to you.