A great secret of how to become calm is to look at the night sky and meditate on God’s heavens.
Our traumatic moments when we find it hard to be become calm
A traumatic moment in time is etched into the canvas of every mind that has ever lived. In those moments, how we react determines much of the outcome. If panic sets in, the human body becomes physically unable to think because the blood flow to the brain is restricted.
I have often told my own kids, “Don’t jump up and down on the panic button” because I want them to be able to think when everything in their lives goes sideways. For everyone, not panicking in traumatic situations is a tough thing to accomplish. Many of our first responders and military are trained to remain calm in stressful situations. They have to be able to think rationally and problem solve.
In our world right now, this is one thing that we need: Calm. There is only One who can provide what we need.
Think about it for just a few moments: the brilliance of moonlight on a still lake. The reflection of the moon on the surface makes the water seem as though it is a vast mirror; nothing is disturbing the water. A serene moment where the cares of this world start to fade as your eyes drift from the peaceful water to the dazzling display of stars overhead.
The night was indeed bright with thousands of stars on display as Kelly and I sat on beach chairs in the bed of my pickup truck on December 21 all alone in the parking lot of Lake Tawakoni State Park just outside of Quinlan, Texas. Orion was on display just above the horizon, and the darkened state of the park allowed us to see the Andromeda Cluster in the eastern sky. We weren’t at a dark park like Arches National Park, but we could see many constellations hanging over us as they made their way across the night sky.
I was reminded of how God knows the stars. He should know them; He put them there.
“But there is one who made the constellations Pleiades and Orion; he can turn the darkness into morning and daylight into night. He summons the water of the seas and pours it out on the earth’s surface. The Lord is his name! (Amos 5:8, NET)
“He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea; he makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky; he does great and unsearchable things, and wonderful things without number.” (Job 9:8-10, NET)
“Can you tie the bands of the Pleiades, or release the cords of Orion? Can you lead out the constellations in their seasons, or guide the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens, or can you set up their rule over the earth?” (Job 38:31-33, NET)
“Look up at the sky! Who created all these heavenly lights? He is the one who leads out their ranks; he calls them all by name. Because of his absolute power and awesome strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26, NET)
“He counts the number of the stars; he names all of them.” (Psalm 147:4, NET)
Look to the stars to become calmed by God’s glory
I wish that I had adequate words to describe who God is, but the best I can do is to take you out to a clear night sky and point out all of the stars and planets we can see. God put them in that spot for a reason. For centuries the night sky has shown us seasons and the establishment of the changing of the seasons. On December 21, 2021, we changed from Fall to Winter. The marking of the change of the season was the length of the day and the night. Shortest day, longest night. God designed that. He is majestic and awesome.
Navigating the seas has been done by the stars for nearly as long as boats have been out on the water. Anyone who is worth their sea salt knows how to use a sextant for the express purpose of navigating a ship across the vastness of the open water. Calculating the angle between a fixed object, such as a star, and the horizon gives the sailor the navigational information he needs to know where he is on the water. God gave us the knowledge to be able to figure this out. He is all-knowing and all-powerful
This is who God is. Creator of the night sky, and the One who taught us how to use it.
He also uses the night sky to calm souls, hearts, and minds.
In the December 2021 Update letter from John Eldredge, I found this opener to a paragraph John wrote:
“After year two of the pandemic I think all of us are longing for beauty and love and sacred moments this December. So let’s remember, friends, beautiful things like love and joy and sacred moments do not just happen. They are something we contend for, something we help usher in through our choices and prayers.”**
My reply to these three sentences is, “Yes! I need this!”
How stargazing changed me
I found my sacred moment as I stared up into the night sky from under my sleeping bag. I don’t know how else to describe how I felt, other than to say I felt a sense of calm like I have never felt before. At the start, once I was snuggled down under by layers of clothes and sleeping bag, my mind raced with thoughts of what I needed to do when I got home; but I fought against all of that and worked for my innermost being to be at peace. It wasn’t long before a shooting star burned across the night sky. Kelly and I exclaimed “shooting star!” at the same time, and my heart and mind began to become calmer and calmer.
I did have to contend for this moment. I had to contend for the time to be able to go to Lake Tawakoni, and contend for the mental space to allow this to happen. We pray over our coming and going, and we ask God to show us His direction. He opened this adventure up for us. It came down to us making this one hour trip happen.
The result of fighting for this moment? Calm.
I want to go back and be re-immersed in the moment. I want to go back to where I was and see what I was looking at. I want the Spirit of God to wash over me again like He did then so that I can sense the calm that overtook my soul that night. I experienced God’s peace and calm in a way I have never felt before, and even as I write these words I feel a longing coming over me to return to that place in time for that experience.
But I also feel the Spirit saying to me, “My peace never left you when you left Lake Tawakoni.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.” (John 14:27, NET)
We had watched a beautiful moonrise over the same horizon that we observed Orion. The lunar rise had blocked our view of the Andromeda Cluster, but the brilliance of Earth’s only satellite was breathtaking. Stunning. The brilliance of the glory of God on full display.
From the shepherd boy, David, who became a king, we find these words:
“To him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures, the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures, the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures.” (Psalms 136:7-9, ESV)
The hardest part of the night was packing up to go home. Crawling out from underneath the sleeping bag, folding up the sleeping bags, and folding up the chairs were all the hardest things to do. Packing up to head back to the reality of life. I had to look down. I had to take my eyes off of the brilliant star display that was hanging above us, as the heavens were declaring the glory of God.
The Spirit of God was not being left behind. His calm and his peace were not going to be remnants that we left in that parking lot. God did not stand next to the deer feeding in the grassy areas around the parking lot and wave goodbye as we pulled away. He is with us. Emmanuel. His peace and his calm got in the truck with us and hasn’t left; we haven’t done a good job of recognizing that His Spirit is with us just as He promised. We, too, have to recognize that when things go sideways or stone-cold crazy, all is calm. In the middle of your storm and mine, Jesus speaks “peace” to us through His Spirit.
You may not be able to see the amount of stars that we get down here outside of the glow of the lights from the Metroplex. The Big Dipper may be about the only constellation you can see; but maybe you need to venture outside tonight and look up. Get your eyes and mind off of what is happening in the right now, and be present with God as he shows you the majesty and glory of his magnificent creation. May you experience the peace, the calm, the overwhelming and all-consuming love of God, and may you be bestowed the knowledge that He is with you.
How to Become Calm Prayer Meditating on God’s Heavens
Father, thank you for the stars and planets you have placed in the night sky that show us Your glory. May we be reminded that you came to save us from our sin, and that you can and will provide the calm we need in the middle of our stormy lives. Thank you for calming my heart before you. Thank you for loving me so much that you placed each star in the sky precisely where it is today. May they be etched in my mind as the display of your might and majesty, and the reminder that while you hold all of the universe together, we are loved by you the most. I ask for your peace and your calm to take hold of my life so that I may walk in step with you each and every day. In the power of Your name I pray, amen.
Copyright © 2021, David E. Shelton. All rights reserved.