Perform all activity without complaint and argument that ye may be blameless and harmless offspring of God devoid of admonition in the presence of cunning and immoral generation, among whom ye shine as light in the world. Philippians 2:14-16
The quick-burning desire to be an astronomer came in year three of my college experience. That was after the theorist, writer (the first time), and English professor, but before anthropologist, high school teacher, and writer (the second time). You can’t blame a guy for wanting to squeeze every cent out of his scholarships.
So, in year three, I became certain that I would study space because I loved planets and stuff. With the same enthusiasm that had carried me through my philosophy phase, I charged into star charts and calculated orbits with fury and fine-tipped lead pencils.
I pored over research on black holes and quasars and stared closely into the night sky trying to figure out how in the world someone could think that a certain cluster of stars could look whatsoever like a human being, goat or whatever.
Then, realism hit in the way of astrophysics. The funny thing about studying the stars is that you have to be able to analyze distances, luminosity, parallaxes, and more fancy terms. I could crunch calculations just fine, but that doesn’t mean I found it more adequate than, say, ripping off a bandage from my legs.
Before I came to know Christ in my Life, all that nadir gazing did, produced one important result in me: deep, deep emptiness. You can’t help but feel how minor you are when you look into the infinite-seeming inkiness of space. The more you see how incomprehensibly expansive everything really is, the more you feel speck-like in the cosmic order. The weight of infinity came crushing in on me.
And in that darkness, I wanted light. This “crooked and depraved” man groped about for anything that would shine, some rays of hope. Not locating them in philosophy or books or even astronomy, the pressure just got worse. I kept feeling my way through the darkness into whatever classes the university offered, but through each of my potential career paths, I found nothing that could brighten the road around me.
Obviously, I wouldn’t have put it in those positions back then. At that point, I just knew something was ruined, and I couldn’t figure out what. I needed the “word of life.” But I didn’t know I needed it, and I didn’t know where to find it.
Intersecting Faith & Life: That’s where we come in as Christians. People like the old me don’t always even know what bothers them. Some have overthrown the pain that it plays in pursuits of passion: They silence it with noise, clutter, medicine, or flesh. They chose to find ways to overlook the severe burden.
And then they see the stars. At least, they should see the stars. I don’t essentially mean the stars in the night, since city lights drown them out for most of us nowadays. I mean, they need to see the stars around them who shine through their Jesus-imitating behavior. That light has the power to both reveal their blindness and help them see.
So, shine. People like the old me are counting on it.
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