Chester and the Galaxies

The tree that dropped these leaves was so beautiful I had to stop the car to take pictures of it. Then I noticed the carpet of leaves on the sidewalk.

About an hour ago I took a break from the article I was writing and went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. Scurrying across the linoleum was a bug. Thinking it was a box elder beetle (Jake did a recent science project on these; they’re funny looking bugs), I got down for a closer look. It was a tiny cricket, smaller than Chester in Cricket in Time’s Square (I read this as a kid and then again to my kids last year–great book) but delicate, just as Chester looks in those beautiful drawings by Garth Williams (who also illustrated Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little).

I pushed a crumb on the floor closer to the cricket, but it jumped. Up, up, up, a good six times higher than its own height, then landing on its feet. Amazing! I did it again. Then I just watched, as the cricket put out its incredibly thin, sensitive feelers to test before it took each step. Somehow its long, folded jumping legs moved in stride with its much shorter front legs, and a few seconds later, it had made its way under the stove and was out of sight. Smart cricket! I don’t remember the last time I swept under there!

“Chester” made me think of a conversation I had on Wednesday with one of the international students I tutor. “What do you want to work on today?” I asked her at the beginning of the session.

Her reply was immediate: “Bible.”

“Hard stuff again?” This would not be the first time we’ve discussed a Bible lesson. She is newer to the English language than many of the other international students in the class, so the discussions move too quickly for her, and on top of that she has no background in Christianity or the Bible.

“I don’t understand what we are talking about, and I have a test tomorrow.”

What they have been talking about is internal and external evidences, the canon, and plenary-verbal inspiration. Many of our non-Christian students WANT this. With educations steeped in the scientific, they want to sift through evidence; they want “proof” outside of experience.

But this student, though raised in the same kind of setting, is asking different questions. “How do YOU know?” she asked me a few weeks back. “What was a time God showed He was real to YOU?”

I’ve shared Patrick’s story; I’ve talked about moving to Japan and moving back. I’ve talked about comfort even in times that started out difficult and stayed difficult.

So this day I skipped the canon and started with general revelation.

And I got a little excited.

“When I took a walk yesterday,” I told her, “I noticed all the colors in the trees. Beautiful. And then I noticed these little plants—someone told me they are called ‘Chinese Lanterns.’ They’re amazing. And when I think that each winter these plants and trees cease operations, huddle into themselves during the cold months, and then are brought to life again in the spring, I am in awe!”

She was nodding, so I went on. I talked about the wonders of the human foot, that so small a base (and only two of them) could hold up a person as tall as the head of our international student program. She grinned.

“When I look at all of that, I think, ‘There must be a designer. This could not have come about by accident, by an explosion.” She’s shaking her head now, though I know she has learned nothing but evolution in her schooling. “I think that this must have come out of the mind of a Being far greater than I, Someone who was able to think of each tiny, tiny detail—down to the atoms and molecules—as well as the hugeness of planets and galaxies and how it all works together.”

I was breathless by now, and her eyes were shining. But I’m not finishing this post by saying that she made a decision that afternoon, though we moved from general revelation to special, from the stars to the Bright and Morning Star who came down for us to view him up close and personal and then died so we could really know Him (not that I used those words! J). No, this very special student is on her own journey, and I want the Holy Spirit of God to move her heart in that personal, beautiful way He has until it is her own decision and not one unduly influenced by me or anyone else.

But I finish this post with amazement at the general revelation He has given—from “Chester” currently hiding out under my stove to the galaxies and planets revealed to our weak eyes through the Hubble and Kepler telescopes. I finish with a sorrow-mixed awe at the power of storms like Sandy and what they tell us about our own incapacity and the mighty strength of the God who created wind patterns and waves that groan and heave with the weight of the Fall.

Take a walk today. Crouch low and notice the details. Look up high and watch the wind bend branches and trees as thick as our bodies. Google images of stars and planets (here’s a Web site I found today:

Get a bigger picture.

And let’s be amazed, awed, wowed together.

Here are some of those Chinese Lanterns–now I finally know what the red version in my yard is. They’re beautiful.

4 thoughts on “Chester and the Galaxies

  1. This post ties in with what I have been mulling over all day! Thank you for putting it into words so beautifully. We have an awesome God.

    • I’m so glad–it’s always encouraging to know that what I am learning is also what someone else is–and we can encourage each other with our individual growth.

  2. Wow…thanks for sharing. Thanks for being a “Spiritual” tour guide for that student, allowing her to be led by the Holy Spirit.

    In the back roads of my mind, I can see the two of you walking together.

    Blessing to you

    Love, Dad

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