“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork..” Psalm 19:1
It’s funny because today my sister and I were riding in the car talking about the solar flares lately, and the conversation naturally turned to the 2012 doomsday predictions (that solar flares are going to fry the earth), then from there to the Mayan calendar (where we get the 12-21-2012 date), and from there to the Mayan culture. I know very little about the Mayans except for History/Discovery channel-esque shows over the past 3-4 years that have been trying to cash in on the end-of-the-world idea. So our conversation got into how on earth this culture came up with their calendar; namely, their math/astronomy abilities. My sister is a little anti-math in general, and I agree that it’s a little insane to think about the calculations they were doing by hand and how accurate they have been. But the other thing we agreed on was: what else on earth were people going to be doing back then? OF COURSE the Mayans and other ancient cultures focused on the sky; it was THERE, and there was nothing like it. And there was no ambient light to kill it.
Cultures like that, for me, teach two very different faith lessons in connection to Psalm 19. First, by all means, it is a grievous loss if we fail to look up very often. I am a deep lover of nature and the sky, by day and night. But I know the past few years I’ve spent more time inside, and cooped up, than I have for awhile. Busyness, distractions, fatigue, over-scheduling, and life in civilization under the humming lights, can rob us of a most precious and cost-free experience — the SKY. And the wonder, silence, weight, life, and inspiration of it. All it takes to turn that around is to decide how I intend to use my time, and to do it; to stop and look up and enjoy.
But the other lesson is that looking up won’t solve everything of itself. The Mayans had that part down, but I bet they also knew how to get so entrenched in what they saw there, and how they interpreted it, that the majestic became more mundane. I mean, for them the sky was a source of calculation and prediction, but also faith/religion; it could be a political force or a source of livelihood; it was a tool for construction and navigation; and more. In that sense, the most expert among them, and those who spent the most hours staring at its every part, might have long lost any wonder at the heavens. It was something to be mastered and utilized, not necessarily a declaration of the glory of God.
That probably speaks to how we treat God in general, and how we value/not value the many ways God is revealing himself daily. Consider it for yourself, and I’d say, today, maybe go in search of wonder. Go looking for the glory of God where it is to be found, and maybe don’t just look but also praise. Not in an awkward, forced way. Don’t just stop short of the office, stare at the sun for 3 minutes and call it “done” and try to think got a grip on God’s glory. But I’ll bet given enough time, however much time, something will take hold in your heart. Carve out a chance to do that, to take the time you need to reconnect to God’s handiwork. And whatever keeps you from that, whatever is robbing your wonder, whether it’s how your time is spent, or the environment you find yourself in, or the people around you, or the commitments you feel obligated to — remember that your heart, alive and full in Christ Jesus, is the best you have to offer anyone, anywhere, anytime. Creeping along through all your commitments, half-alive, is nothing you’re obligated to.