Celestial navigation: Look up

According to britannica.com, constellations are “…certain groupings of stars that were imagined — at least by those who named them — to form conspicuous configurations of objects or creatures in the sky.”

When you break it down then, constellations are basically a cosmic game of connect the dots. At least that’s how they function for most of us in the modern world. In fact, I remember doing assignments in my younger years in which we connected the dots of the stars and talked about the shapes they made.

I love looking up at the stars and trying to find the various constellations. I’m not very good at it, though. I can find Ursa Major, or “the Great Bear.” But even then, I can’t point out all of the stars that are actually in the full constellation. I can only really find its tail and hindquarters, which form the Big Dipper.

I also can find Orion, “the Hunter.” Again, I can’t outline the whole shape, but it’s easy to find the three prominent stars that form Orion’s belt.

I am aware of several other constellations but wouldn’t be able to point them out in the night sky if my life depended on it. The stars are beautiful, and they inspire wonder in my spirit, but for this modern individual, they don’t serve any purpose beyond the aesthetics.

I find it fascinating that these seemingly arbitrary and meaningless shapes in the sky actually played an important role in navigation. This was particularly true in antiquity but is also true today. There are websites that will teach you how to do it.

One can use the constellations for what’s known as celestial navigation. Through this process, one can determine north, south, east and west and calculate their latitudinal and longitudinal positions, thus providing them with the information needed to get from where they are to their desired destination.

Constellations then aren’t just random pictures in the night sky but the original global positioning system. In order to get where we’re going, we simply need to look up.

In Colossians 3:1-3, it reads, “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

As the apostle Paul continues, he provides his readers with some constellations on which to focus to bring about the lives God desires for us. They are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thankfulness and wisdom.

When we set our hearts and minds on these heavenly virtues and walk the paths they illumine for us, our lives become more. They become representations of the divine as we are transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ.

It’s easy to get turned around and lost in this world and not just in the physical sense. There are so many different voices, priorities, desires and concerns calling for our attention. Where we choose to orient our attention will determine the direction of our lives.

It’s difficult at times to lift our eyes from the dirt beneath our feet. We make a mistake, however, when we think the dirt beneath our feet is the best means of determining the direction we should go.

We need to lift our eyes to the heavens. We need to look to the sky and see the constellations that paint pictures of what our lives could and/or should be and provide direction to help us get there. We need to make sure we fix our hearts and minds on constellations that will lead us to productive places and result in positive outworkings in our lives. We need some celestial navigation. We need to look up and walk on into the full and abundant lives God has for us.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected].