For the Tribe of Hinneh, Csehy 2013. I know I’ve said this a hundred times, but it’s true: you taught me so much about God. Even as I was striving to help you behold Him, I beheld Him in new ways. Many of these thoughts are yours, as are all of the pre-canto quotes, taken from our study of Job. I love you all.
For Jonathan Holland, for first drawing my attention to Isaiah 40 and understanding my excitement at it, for Nancy Puckett and Michael Caprera for joining that excitement, whether we were quiet under the stars or chasing clouds with Hannah Cousino, Sarah Cohen, and Sarah Upton. This is for all six of you.
For Ezra Dunn, who through our relationship took so much about God that I knew and made it concrete – “So this is what it looks like that God is sovereign. That God is enough. That Jesus’ death atoned for it all.” Whenever I look at the stars, I think of two poems you wrote – one where the stars are missing, and one where we looked at them together. I love you.
Introduction: The History
At the end of Csehy 2012, we were stargazing and discussing Isaiah 40. Not the parts that usually get talked about – not preparing the way in the desert or the grass withering or strength like eagles. We were talking about the verses sandwiched in the middle, about the heavens being a span of His hand. As I left Csehy, I held that thought close to me as the next months turned out to be full of difficulty, working through fear, calling, desire, unsurety, and many other things. Isaiah 40 became my refuge, the place I sought God in every trial. It reminds me of 1 Kings 19: Elijah is despairing. God comes, but rather than answering Elijah’s questions, God shows Elijah Himself.
When it came time to choose my hall verse for Csehy 2013, I went to my favorite passages, but none of them fit until I got to Isaiah 40, and then it was clear. I wanted my girls to behold their God. To step past the torn curtain and encounter God. Isaiah 40 has taught me many things, but the biggest one is that if we see who God is, all our trials fade. In every storm in the past year, knowing the power and tenderness of the God who cares for me has brought hope, joy, and security.
My girls and I studied Isaiah 40 and other passages related to who God is – 1 Peter, Job, the Armor of God – and talked about what it means that God is enough, what the gospel is, what the will of God is and means, and prayed together, and God taught me about Himself yet again.
The way we saw the power of God displayed in those five weeks at Csehy was incredible. We saw how the way He has set the solar system in motion is so precise that scientists can predict exactly when there’s going to be a supermoon. We saw that, too, in the constellations. But we also were amazed by the number of stars there were, and how much we didn’t know, and how that reflected His power and might. We saw and heard storms: heat lightening in powerful clouds, booming thunder, walls of wind and water. And most of all, we saw him move in the hearts of men and women.
In our cloud-chasing and stargazing escapades, I was learning how to be quiet and still, whether there was a lot on my mind or whether I had nothing specific to think about. I learned how to behold God in trial and peace. I think our love for the Field of Dreams and Moss Lake are left from man’s first home in Eden – the natural beauty and walking with God.
One day, we’ll behold Him face to face. Heaven was an especially common conversation as we neared the end of Csehy and parted ways. For all we know, we might not see each other again until heaven – and He’ll give us enough to get through that. But we wondered – will we even care then that we’re reunited? We’ll be beholding God face to face, which will overpower any other reunion.
A lot of the verses used in this were ones we were already familiar with and spoke of often, but on the way home from Csehy I did a study of clouds and stars in the Bible and that’s where the general themes about them as well as some of the more specific verses were turned up.
I could have turned this poem into a sermon about how beholding God solves everything. But instead I want to try to step aside and show you God – the Father, the Son, the Spirit, Adonai, Yahweh, Abba – Creator, Redeemer, Bridegroom, and King. When we have Him, all else seems unimportant. It’s crazy to think about, how He is so powerful and dwells in inapproachable light, and yet how He carries us so close to Him and has given us eternity to know Him.
May you catch just a glimpse of His greatness in what follows, and be inspired to still deeper levels of worship.