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The Ministry of Stars

I am alone.

“Antares, Classification: Pulsating Variable Star”

Tears swell up in my eyes as I see these words on the stargazing app on my phone. I click the star in question, the one that twinkled and flashed extra bright, as I am standing on the deck listening to the post-Independence Day discount fireworks and the critter medley “now playing” in the yard below me. My sociable dog chases a moth around the edges of the wooden deck bobbing his head in and out as if shocked that a creature could fly in such daring flight patterns. The breeze is warm and humid, but it is not miserable for July. How can such scientific words cause that water to surge in my eyes? “Pulsating Variable Star.” I do a simple search. Antares is a supergiant that’s name means opposing Mars, the god of war. This Antares is a star that grows and shrinks continuously depending on its evolutionary stage. It is a useful and important type of star for the astronomer. Oh. My life. My heart. I feel an affinity with this star.

Earlier today I heard the word patience being translated as long-suffering; the sower sows and waits, the fisher casts the net and waits, the artist creates and waits, and the Christian prays and waits. And they all suffer in various pulsating ways until the glory comes.

I remember nine years ago reading a book about humility. It was the first time I realized I am not the one changing my heart. God is.

I remember one year ago when I obsessed over finding word meanings in the Bible in the original languages. I was enamored by the words “delight” and “enlarged.” I loved finding all the places these words were used throughout scripture.

Did you know that Eden means delight? Did you know God talks about enlarging our hearts and expanding land borders and growing tents? It’s all in the treasury of his Word.

Hearts. Land. Home.

I remember feeling like I could not expand my capacity to love a single person or thing more. My heart was feeling a bit too crowded.

I remember God bringing heaps of people in my life to love. Something I prayed for previously that year, but I was not able to receive the gift happily in this delayed moment of blessing. I was tired. I told Jesus. He enlarged my heart’s boundaries to love these people too. He changed my heart’s mind to believe in daily bread and not hoarding the manna that will go bad. He told me to delight.

Another star catches my eye much in the same way as a word transfiguring into something more in the contemplative practice of lectio divina. Jesus, is your creation speaking to me?

“IC4606, Classification: Diffuse Nebula”

Another simple Google search for this very amateur astronomer explains this classification of diffuse nebula. A bunch of dust and gas, if large and massive enough, can be a generative place for stars to form. Clusters of stars even. If enlarged and full. More tears.

Maybe when I feel scattered in pieces, this brokenness serves as a breeding place for growth of glories I cannot begin to fathom. Maybe all the pruning will produce better fruit. Maybe those fish will be caught in abundance. Maybe my creations will not be in vain. And maybe prayer and long-suffering can lead to the most beautiful delight.

Now I am not alone. And never will be.

Dear God, I know you prune and grow, shrink and enlarge, empty and fill, die and live. May I pay attention to all the ways you minister to me. You really are the most personal and mighty Creator. I believe you today. May I trust you to enlarge my heart and fill me with your Spirit to understand the ministry of the stars. Help me to stop gazing at the reflection of my self in the pool of my phone. Would you gently lift my head in the direction of your brilliant preaching stars to fulfill your commandment to “remember me”? You know every name. My real name. My essence of who you made me to be. Make something bright out of the foggy cloud of the pieces of me. I want to be used up for you. Help me to fully treasure You today and forever. In the precious and entirely competent name of Jesus, Amen.

Psalm 119:24-32

“Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”

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