DayBreaks for 9/29/17 – Stars and Fear

Multiwavelength Crab Nebula

DayBreaks for 9/29/17: Stars and Fear

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love the mountains.  I love the ocean.  I love the forests.  I love redwoods.  But there isn’t much of anything, not even the Pacific Ocean, that makes me gasp in wonder as much as staring up thoughtfully at the night sky.  The vastness, the coldness of space plays tricks with my frail human mind.  I can’t even begin to grasp it.  When I stand on the beach at the edge of the Pacific, I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste and smell it in the air.  But I can’t do that with space.  As vast as the Pacific is, I can get some sense of its size by flying over it for hours on end.  Try that with the universe. 

It’s really strange – the stars don’t go away in the daytime, you know.  It’s just that because of the brightness of the sun, we can’t see them.  They’re still there – blazing away. Every second of the day and night the sun alone burns 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen and converts that into 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.  At the center of the sun the temperature is 15,600,000 degrees Kelvin.  That’ll cook a hot dog for you…really fast.

I could go on with facts and figures about the sun for a long, long time.  I never tire of the wonder of it all – the immensity.  And to think it all came into being by the words, “Let there be…”  Wow.

I could wander among the stars ceaselessly, mesmerized by the beauty of that part of God’s creation.  (In case you like to do that, too, you can go to this web site for incredible deep space pictures: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/.) 

But space is dark, and space is hostile.  It is not a place for the timid or those concerned about security.  Not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut.  And stars are only seen by night.  

I can get frightened by sounds I hear in the dark house at night, or sounds that seem to be just outside the bedroom window.  Night time is a time to be scared, but it is also when the stars can be seen.  An American astronomer spoke these wonderful words: I have lived among the stars for too long to fear the night.  Oh, how I like that!  It makes me think of the Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16 (NIV) – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

Living in the Presence of that Star will be the most awesome of all.  Here, we see through a glass darkly, but then, oh praise God, then – we shall see face to face!  And there is no reason to fear the night, for there will be no more night…just the brightest Star of all, shining in glory eternally!

PRAYER:  Lord, you tell us that our lives are like a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next.  You have filled our lives with people – some we enjoy, others we don’t – and with moments to make a difference for eternity.  What a privilege you have given to us!  May we use life wisely before the vapor that is our days is gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 8/17/17 – Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

DayBreaks for 8/17/17: Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

Note from Galen: Sorry for all the DayBreaks repeats these past few months. I happen to be in a very busy season of life right now. Oh, yeah, yesterday was my anniversary, so I took the day off from DayBreaks! I appreciate your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

On Sunday evening, 8/12, some friends and my wife and I sat out on our deck and watched about 2 hours worth of the Perseid meteor shower.  I’d read about it before, so I was familiar with what it was.  Basically, for those who may not know, it’s when the earth passes through the tail of a comet (Swift-Tuttle) that originates in the Perseus constellation.  The effect of passing through this comet’s “tail” has been observed for over 2000 years, and if you missed it, don’t worry: it happens every summer and peaks at about August 12 each year.  Some of the effects we observed were rather insignificant – faint streaks of light that happened so quickly that you didn’t dare blink or you’d miss them entirely – but others were very bright and left a long, glowing streak across the sky as the particles flamed out in the atmosphere.

There is a song by Fernando Ortega in which he contemplates God’s protection and Presence with us.  In that song, one line goes as follows: “My days are passing by like falling stars that blaze across the night sky and then they are gone…”  The Perseids gave me new perspective on exactly what that means.  And I paused in my heart to take stock of my life.  Life truly does fly by like blazing “falling stars”, does it not?  Scripture talks about it as a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes…I think Fernando’s take on it is more apt and seemingly (at least to me) much more realistic.  Blink, and you miss it.  Blink, and it is gone, over, done.

I don’t know how long the Lord will permit me to abide on the face of the earth.  I’m 55 years old now (65 as of 2017).  From the actuarial tables, I’ve got maybe 10 years left.  10 years.  The first 20 went by so quickly, and the years from 20 to 40 even faster.  Let’s not even discuss my perspective on how fast I got from 40 to 65.  It’s frightening to contemplate.  And if I’m lucky and blessed, I may see another 15-20 years, but with the history of cardiac problems in my family, the odds are probably against that happening, but God knows. 

So, what am I to make of all this?  I suppose there are several things that come to my mind:

FIRST: I wonder what it will actually be like to die.  It struck me with new force that it’s an experience we can’t really prepare ourselves for – we just don’t know how it feels until we go through it.  Last night as I contemplated this, I wished I could ask my father what it’s like – since he’s been there and is now at home with our Lord.  I will NOT escape that experience, no matter how much I might wish to, or how good I’ve been.  I can only say that I hope it will be like falling asleep and waking up to see the Lord’s face smiling at me. 

SECOND: I ponder all the things that I’ve wanted to do in life, but that I’ve not yet done.  Places I’d like to see.  Friends I’d like to see “one more time.”  Problems and temptations that I’d like to “overcome” before I say my final farewell to earth and fly to meet Him.  Some of those things are unimportant – such as the places I’d like to see.  But what haunts me is the thought: “As I lay on my death bed, what will be my biggest regret?”  If I could answer that question and then manipulate human history and events, then I’d put that question to rest.  But, alas, I cannot manipulate life, and I don’t know until I reach the moment of death what will be my biggest regret at that moment in time.  But, methinks it’s worth thinking about. 

THIRD: I can see the holes in my character, and their size is humbling.  I see many of the faults in my obedience and love for God and others.  Those are humbling, too.  So what’s a man or woman to do who stops long enough to take stock of life and a future of unknown and uncertain duration?  I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in these words of Scripture from Paul’s pen in Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) – I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  I’m glad that Paul didn’t say that he himself would have to complete what God had started.  How much better that the one who began that work in us (God Himself!) will see to its completion in ME…and in you!  Although it is beyond my ken and comprehension, I have God’s word on it.  And if that’s not good enough to launch out into eternity, then what is?

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for falling stars and the sweet days of life that flee from east to west in the twinkle of an eye.  Life is sweet, Lord, and it is precious.  May we remember what a great gift this is that You’ve given us.  Thank You for Your Faithful Word and Promise to bring us to spotless perfection in Christ Jesus.  You are amazing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/27/14 – He Thinks About You

DayBreaks for 6/27/14 – He Thinks About You

Psalm 8:3-4 (MSG) I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?

Psalm 8:3-4 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?

I wonder if there has ever been any human being in full possession of their faculties who has not sat under the starry sky on a dark night and been spellbound with amazement?  Sure, the ancients had no concept of how many stars there are in the universe nor of the vast distances that their light has traversed to paint their image on our retinas, but I’m nearly certain that we’ve all been captured by the majestic night sky!

When I sit under the stars with all the lights far away, even with my fading vision, I feel so infinitesimally small and insignificant.  If my body were to be thrown into space by a sudden upheaval of the earth’s crust, I’d be far smaller and occupy a much tinier space than a grain of sand in the Pacific Ocean.  And I echo the words of David, “Why?  Why, God, do you even both to take a second look in my direction?”  There is perhaps nothing more humbling.  Maybe that’s why He created space so immense – to teach us the difference between us and Him.

Helmut Thielicke says that during World War II, his students often wrote from the battlefield saying, “I am so exhausted from marching, my stomach is so empty, I am so plagued with lice and scratching, I am so tormented by the biting cold of Russia and so dead tired, that I am totally occupied, without the least bit of inner space for any speculative thinking.” Sometimes they would write that they were too weak to leaf through the Bible and were even lazy about the Lord’s Prayer. Dr. Thielicke would reply, “Be thankful that the Gospel is more than a philosophy. If it were only a philosophy, you would just have it as long as you could keep it in mind and it could afford you intellectual comfort. But even when you can no longer think about God, he still thinks about you.”

Today you may feel small.  Insignificant.  Microscopic.  Unimportant.  Worthless.  Alone in a vast sea of humanity and cosmic dust.  If Scripture is to be believed (and I do believe it), though we are small, we are not insignificant to God.  Though we are microscopic, we are not invisible to Him.  Though we are unimportant in the great scheme of things, we matter to Him.  Though we are worthless in comparison, He finds us priceless.  And though we may feel alone…we never are.

We are held in not just His thoughts, but in His heart, not just for now, but for forever!

PRAYER: Thank You for “seeing” and thinking of us and believing we are of such great worth that You gave everything for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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