Editor’s note: Columns in the Faith section reflect opinions and perspectives of the writer and are not necessarily those of The Republic.
It was a dark, still, and moonless night. I could see the small glow of the next town in the distance. Except for the headlights of my vehicle, there was no light around me. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.
It was after midnight. I had been in meetings in Kansas City and was half-way through my drive home to the small community in which I pastored. Highway 36 in Kansas has many dark and lonely stretches. There are about 30 miles between towns, and driving this late at night means you encounter very few other vehicles.
It was a difficult season. My heart was heavy with stresses from our church, problems with extended family, and I was feeling some minor depression. A two-and-a-half-hour drive alone gives you plenty of time to think, and my thoughts easily gravitated to my problems and concerns. I was also praying as I drove, pouring out my heart to the Lord.
I was tired and decided to pull off to the side of the road and get out of the car to stretch. I still had over an hour to drive. I pulled over, turned off my headlights, and stepped out of the car. Kansas is flat, and the highway has many stretches where there are no trees or other structures to block the sky. Since there is nothing around, there is also no light pollution.
The air was brisk and refreshing. I zipped my jacket. I have always enjoyed looking up at the stars on a clear moonless night, and this was one of those special nights. With no moon, no clouds, and low humidity, I could see the big dipper and the Milky Way. From horizon to horizon, the night sky was spectacular. As I looked up and wondered at the vastness of our galaxy and the thousands of stars I could see, I knew there were billions of other stars I could not see, which our sophisticated telescopes can see. With each more powerful telescope, more stars, galaxies, and universes are discovered.
I found myself saying, “Wow, Lord. You are so big! I feel like such a speck.” I remembered that the Bible says in Psalm 139 that there is no place in the heavens where anyone can go where God is not. In the vast expanse of space which I was looking into, God was there.
In the vastness of the universe, our solar system is a speck. If our solar system is a speck, then our planet is a smaller speck, and a man standing on the side of Highway 36 was a minuscule speck. And as I stood there gazing at the sky, I realized my problems, cares, worries, and concerns were also nothing more than specks.
The same God who rules the mighty universe is the same God who loves me, knows my name, calls me friend, and lives inside of my heart. God spoke, and all I was gazing at came into being, and He says that I could trust Him to care for me, my family, and my church. God said He would never leave or forsake me. With a God big enough to create all I saw and personal and loving enough to know my name and the intimate details of all of my problems, my depression melted away. On the side of the road, I felt the weight lift from my heart and joy replace the heaviness.
I got back into my car and pulled back on Highway 36. I still had over an hour’s drive, but what a difference ten minutes can make on a dark moonless night. I stepped out of the car depressed and burdened and stepped back into the car with joy, peace, and assurance.
Sometimes I need to regain perspective, and I expect you also do. Sometimes I need to remember that I am nothing more than a speck, on a planet which is a slightly bigger speck, in a galaxy that is only a speck in a vast universe.
Since I am a speck, my problems are also only a speck in proportion to the vastness of God, who tells me to bring my problems to Him. The final half of my drive home was vastly different than the first portion. My heart was light, praise poured from my lips, the time went quickly, and I felt safe in the hands of God.
I woke the next morning and still faced the church stresses and the extended family problems, but I met them aware again that each one would be faced with the help of an infinite, powerful God who knew my name.
As we walk through the most stressful and difficult times, most of us can remember, I need to take a drive to a secluded area and look up in wonder, from time to time. Maybe you do too. It is good to remember that we, COVID-19, the economy and all our problems, are just specks.