In twelfth grade, I took a course called Writers Craft where we had the opportunity to dabble in different forms of writing like poetry. I remember absent-mindedly putting together this haiku:
“This is how we are, just hung up around some star, turning to nothing.”
Not the brightest little poem, I know. Still, I keep returning to it. Most recently, I realized that the last line of the haiku isn’t necessarily true in the context of literal stars. Scientists think that some stars do go out more quietly than others, leaving both the star and the surviving planetary bodies cold and bereft of life. Others pave the way to new beginnings.
Stars that die in huge explosions can leave behind enormous clouds of dust and gas called nebulas. Over time, these clouds have the potential to pull together and compress to birth new stars into the universe. I’ve always found nebulas to be some of the most beautiful creations in space. Each one is unique in its shape, design and potential.
It would be incredible to go visit one. Of course, that isn’t possible for obvious reasons like the length of the trip and the non-existent level of technology that would be required. But even if we could get around all that, nebulas could never truly be visited. We actually have the best view right where we’re at.
Here on Earth an incomprehensible distance away, nebulas take up small patches of sky that can be seen with the naked eye or through a telescope. But these fuzzy, faraway clouds of gas and dust actually span light-years across and are not as concentrated as they appear. If we were to make our way closer to a nebula, we could travel right through it and not know because the gases are spread much further apart than what we see from Earth.
It’s interesting to think that we could be climbing the pillar-like clouds of the Eagle Nebula in the image above and be totally unaware of the beauty around us. We could be right in the heart of the nebula and have no idea that we were travelling through a birthplace of stars. Even while we were in the thick of it, we wouldn’t be able to see that everything that was needed to create a new light was coming together all around us.
What must Jesus see when He looks at us? We know what we see when we look at our own lives. We might see success. We might see failure. Perhaps we see a seemingly inevitable end. We’re in the thick of it; right up-close and personal with the highs and lows of life. Perhaps, because we’re in the thick of it we can’t see Jesus in control of our chaos.
Maybe life exploded on you. Maybe you exploded with it and you look at a Bible verse like Jeremiah 29:11 that says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” and laugh at the very idea that your life could be doing anything but turning to nothing.
In the thick of it, you might be missing out on the nebula that God is calling out from your brokenness. You might be unaware of the stars that can be created in the aftermath of the explosion because the pressures of life are unrelenting and still crushing you down.
Did you know? Nebulas only birth stars when the gas and dust begin to come together. Over time the collected matter is compressed tighter and tighter and tighter until that compression causes a spark that ignites into a bright, blazing new light.
Stars are born under pressure. Struggle gives way to new life.
Look at your life. If you’re living in the aftermath of an explosion, you can live like it’s all said and done. Or you can dare to believe that the stage was set for a nebula in your life- for a new beginning. If you’re feeling the heat and it seems like life is trying to crush you- trying to break you- you might just be on the precipice of becoming the kind of light that God meant for you to be.
It takes an incredibly long time for the matter in a nebula to gather and compress. Still, stars are ignited in an instant. Seasons down the line when you look back at the here and now, you might realize that Jesus was using the remnants of yesterday to bring about new light and new life for you and everyone in your orbit.
A song I love called “For Those Who Wait” has a lyric that says this: “The pressure makes us stronger; the struggle makes us hunger. The hard lessons make the difference and the difference makes it worth it.”
Struggle. Hunger. Endure, keep the faith and stay the course. That difference? That new beginning? It’s worth waiting for.
There is a purpose for every struggle. There is a new beginning for those who wait.
May you continue to experience extraordinary in Him!