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Star Light, Star Bright

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Star Light, Star Bright

When I was very young, I remember sitting on the front porch of our home with my mother. As the day came to a close and the dark shadows of night began to surround us, I anxiously looked for the very first star of the night. When it appeared, I quoted what my mother had taught me a few years back:

Star light, star bright

The first star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might

Have the wish I wish tonight.

“What did you wish for Tommy?” asked mother.

“Can’t tell you,” I said. “If I tell, the wish will not come true.”

Sometimes I would sit for a long time and dream of my wish becoming a reality. On this particular night I might have wished for a new bicycle and the next morning I would awaken at dawn, run outside on the porch, only to discover no bicycle had magically appeared in my front yard.

I had been taught; with God all things were possible. But I was also taught dreaming was natural; however, dreams did not come true in a day or two.  In fact, some dreams may not come true at all until after we have departed this earth.

I was in the third grade before I learned what “departed this earth” meant. It was a grown-up word for death.

When I was twelve years old my cat died. Oh, how I loved that old black cat. The saddest day of my young life was the day my dad and I dug a whole in the ground, wrapped the cat in newspaper and then covered the body with the dirt from the hole.

Sitting under the big oak tree in our back yard, tears streaming down my cheeks, mom came and quietly sat down beside me.

“Why do the ones you love have to die? I asked.

“Well Tommy, sometimes God allows death to happen because He gets lonely.” She replied, “When one of God’s creatures dies, his spirit returns back to God.”

“Do you remember when we watched for the very first star to appear?” M om continued.

“Yes,” I said.

“As the sky grew darker, remember how one star was always brighter?

“Yes, I said, “it was the one that was always to the north, right?”

Mother told me, “That’s right, but do you remember that on certain nights the star seemed to shine a little brighter than on other nights?”

“Yes, I said. “ But why does it shine brighter?”

“Remember what I told you, that when one of God’s creatures dies, his spirit returns back to God?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Well, when that spirit leaves the earth and goes to heaven the star seems to gets a little brighter.  It is one way that God welcomes one of his own back into the family of God,” replied my mom.

“So,” I said. “Dying is not so bad if you know there is someone waiting for you in another place, is it?”

“That’s right,” she said.

“Do you think that northern star will be brighter tonight because my cat died?” I asked.

“We will take a look and see,” she said.

“Does everyone one believe in God?” I asked.

“Most people believe in a God who watches over us. We Americans, and most English speaking people call him God, most Middle Eastern people who are Muslims call him Allah, Jews call him Yahweh, and our Native American Indian relatives simply called him the Creator.”

“What do the words Muslim and Jewish people mean,” I asked?

“Most Muslims practice the religion of Islam; and Jews practice the religion of Judaism.” She said. “We call ourselves Christians. All of us believe we are descendants of a man our Bible calls Abraham.

“You will find Muslims and Jews all over the world, but both of them are originally from a place we call the Middle East.” Mom replied.

“Where is the Middle East?”  I asked.

Mom took me inside and opened an encyclopedia and showed me the Middle East is a region that covers southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa.

We had been studying geography in school, but until now the world outside of theUnited Stateshad little importance for me.

“Are there Christians living everywhere, too,” I asked.

She replied, “There are Christians, Muslims and Jews in almost every place in the world.”

“If they all believe in God,” I said, “why aren’t they all just called God’s people?”

“That’s a hard question to answer,” Mom said, “but this one thing I believe, there is a God, and he is sad because the world, as a whole, seems to not believe in him.”

“I believe in God.”

Mom said, “That is good.  When you have children of your own, promise me you will talk to them about God.”

“I promise!”

The Years Roll By

As the years passed by, I often thought about God, the bright star in the northern sky and the words of wisdom my mother spoke to me.

When I graduated from college, I got married and had children of my own. When our first son, Wayne, was about five years old he asked me, “Who is God?”

One evening, as we were sitting on our deck in our back yard, I began to tell Wayne what my mother had told me many years ago.

“Do you see that bright star?” I asked as I pointed due north.

“Yes sir,” he said.

“It used to shine much brighter when I was young,” I told him.

“What happened to it?” Wayne inquired.

“Many years ago my mother told me a story about God,” I told him. “Would you like to hear it?”

“Yes!” I said.

“There are many people all over the world.  Some of them believe in God, some of them do not. Many believers, like us, call ourselves Christians. Other people are believers in Islam and Judaism. The one constant thing about all of them is they believe in one God and they believe they are descendants of Abraham.

However, there are many people in the world who do not believe in one God. They either believe in a whole bunch of gods or they do not believe in God at all.”

“Why wouldn’t someone believe in God? He asked.

“There are many reasons,” I explained, “but sadly, the main reason is because their parents never taught them.”

“They must not love them very much,” Wayne replied.

“That’s not necessarily so,” I remarked. “Most parents love their children, just as much as I love you.  But many of them, for one reason or another, do not take the time to tell the story of God.”

“Many of these people were forced to go to church when they were young and simply refuse to impose that on their children. Their children have never gone to a church, a mosque or synagogue.”

“Others may have never been taught about God when they were young. Still others may have been exposed to the teaching of God but were never given a good reason to believe in him.”

“Some people take the attitude that they will not be interfering parents and say they will allow their children to make a decision concerning God on their own.”

Wayne looked up at me, questioningly and said, “I am thankful you taught me dad, but I feel sorry for other kids if they have not been told about God. Doesn’t that make you sad?”

“Very much,” I replied. “So when you say your prayers tonight, you might want to remember those children and pray that God will reveal himself to those who do not know him.”

“Enough of that,” I remarked, “let’s get back to the things my mom told me about God. Where did I leave off?”

“You said that star up there used to shine brighter than it does now,” Wayne stated. “Why do you suppose that is true?”

“Like my mom, I believe that every time someone who loves God dies, the star gets brighter. Long ago there were many people who believed in God, so every time they died the star got brighter and brighter.”

“Aren’t there lots and lots of people who still believe in God?” Wayne said.

I sadly replied, “not nearly as many as there used to be.”

Wayne, noticing the sadness in my voice said, “I know how to make the star brighter, Dad.”

“How would you do that Wayne?”

“I will start by telling all my friends I believe in God, and if they don’t, I will tell them what the Bible says,” Wayne enthusiastically remarked.

“You could also pray for all of those children too,” I said, “because there are a lot of children who do not know what a Bible is.”

“Doesn’t everyone know that the Bible is the way God speaks to us?”

“No, Wayne, there are too many people who do not want to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. They not only think there is not God, but they think it is foolish to believe God had men write a book about him.

“From now on,” Wayne said, “When I say my prayers at night, I will pray that God blesses you and mom, granddad and grandmother, our dog Scooter and all the children in the whole wide world.  Then I will close my prayer by asking God to help everyone who does not believe in God and the Bible that one day they will believe.”

“That would be an excellent prayer Wayne. I thank you for being so considerate. And who knows maybe that star up there will be shinning much brighter next year.”

Wayne went to bed and said his prayer and the next morning, as he said his blessing for the food, added “and Lord help me tell all my friends about you.”

The next time you are looking up into heaven and you see the first star and you say:

Star light, star bright

The first star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might

Have the wish I wish tonight.

Your secret wish might be that the entire world would believe there is a God.

 

A Simple Prayer

God, I believe in you and trust you.

Help others to believe and trust too.