Known By Name

Have you ever been in a place where the overwhelming majesty of God’s creation caught your breath in your throat and rendered you speechless in awe? Was it something as major as the Grand Canyon or the Mediterranean Sea, or something as small as a perfect sand dollar washing up on shore, or a newborn‘s first smile?

God’s majesty is all around, yet our busy, self-interested lives often prevent us from observing it. I have a challenge for you. Read this, then read it again. Then make a PLAN to go somewhere this week with the sole intention of observation. Even if you simply go out your front door tonight and look up, you are guaranteed to see God’s wondrous works.

Isaiah chastises us when we go for days or weeks without one simple moment of awe. I feel this rebuke sharply when I realize that I live minutes from the ocean and I haven’t set foot on the beach or even parked someplace where I can watch the ocean for many, many months. I am indeed a grasshopper.

Isaiah 40 (New Revised Standard Version)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to live in;
23 who brings princes to naught,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

He brings princes and rulers of the earth to nothing. How much time we have wasted by passionately following earthly leaders as though they had the power to save us! Not a one of them has the power to save us. Only God does…and he blows on them and they are carried off like the stubble that they are.

The image of God sitting about the circle of the earth and stretching out the heavens like a curtain is glorious. Ponder that for a moment and then read on…

25 To whom then will you compare me,
    or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

The final image that Isaiah paints is of a God who numbers all the planets, nebula, and stars in the sky and instructs the universe where and how to spin. And he knows the names of the stars. HE KNOWS THE NAMES OF THE STARS. How could you possibly think that he doesn’t know yours? How could you possibly think that your troubles are too much to share with him, your sin too deep to be forgiven, or your circumstance too complicated to be fixed?

Lift up your eyes on high…and see.

26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
    calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
    mighty in power,
    not one is missing.

Not even the tiniest star goes missing from his sight. Neither do you.

Known by Name by Matt Seals

Star Counter

Sometimes when my problems feel overwhelmingly big, I try to remember that there are much bigger things:

God’s love for me

God’s prevenient grace

God’s ability to carry my burden

God’s willingness to fix me

God’s creation around me

God’s warrior skills.

Living at the beach provides a constant reminder of how small we are. I stand at the edge of the ocean and watch its power. The waves follow one after the other, the sun sets, and the moon pulls the tide. I have nothing to do with that. Yet I live my life as though I am in control.

The ocean teaches me that it is a fool’s errand to think such things. The water moves on its own accord, set into motion by the God of creation. The beauty around me reminds me that every trial, every tragedy, every misstep, every betrayal, and every hardship we will ever know is smaller than the one who not only counts the stars, but KNOWS THEM BY NAME.

Psalm 147 (New King James Version)

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who prepares rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

What does that say to you today? If he knows the name of every star, surely he knows yours. And the name of your enemy. And the name of your battle. And the names of your family. Listen, he even knows your cat’s name.

If knowing the names of the stars matters to God, how much more do you matter to him? His understanding is infinite. He is mighty in power. In the smallness of our mess, God steps in and binds up wounds and heals the brokenhearted.

Whatever you’ve got today, know this: God’s got you. Whatever is defeating you, remember that God has already won your battle. Whatever is making you feel hopeless, turn to God, who created the universe and is your HOPE.

So sing praise in your darkness, and lift high the name of the Lord in your brokenness. Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Photo courtesy of NASA/Hubble Space Telescope