Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
TITLE: One enchanted evening
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This was my first (and only) visit to rural America, away from cities and bright lights, and happily it took place when the skies were clear; thus, in forty odd years of life, I had my first true sight of the night sky. I couldn’t see any stripes of course, but there were certainly stars – far more than I had ever seen or even thought existed, and I actually saw with my own eyes those elusive ‘shooting stars’ that I’d always regarded as more or less fictional, or at least poetic.
As “The Stars and Stripes for ever” faded from the imaginary stereo in my head it was replaced by the strains of “Big Country” and then secular American splendour gave way to the simple words of the hymn “How great Thou art” and an overwhelming sense of the presence and omnipotence of God. In the darkness I could see no hills, even if there were any, so I just sank to my knees, lifted up my eyes to the vastness of space and praised God for the greatness of his creation.
Perhaps history will describe my generation as ‘The Space Age Kids’. Here in England I had read the stories of Dan Dare in the ‘Eagle’ comic as a lad and then childhood fiction became teenage reality with the first man in space (an essay about that landmark event gained me my first multiple ‘house-marks’ at secondary school). Like countless others I later followed the first live pictures from around the world that resulted from the commissioning of the first communications satellite (was it Telstar?) and I stayed up all night to watch every moment of the first landing on the moon. Like many others too I thrilled to the imaginary adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew as they explored ‘the final frontier’. Gradually real space missions became almost commonplace and fictional ones seemed to crowd our screens: yes, I was well aware of space, but despite that, nothing had prepared me for the immensity of my breathtaking exposure to that glorious night sky in Ohio in 1998.
It was personal. It was private. It was a mere foretaste of what finally coming into the presence of God might be like… and it was real – no science, no technology, no academic theories, not even a scrap of theology or a taint of fiction – this was pure unadulterated truth.
“Heavenly Father, help us all to come to a real knowledge of you. Grant us the vision and insight of the psalmist and strip away all the man-made impediments that often seem to conceal you from us. Help us each to be truly aware of you, your power, your glory, and your presence.
In Jesus’ name,
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