A while ago I went with one of my coworkers to a tattoo parlor to do some price comparison on a tattoo that she wanted to have done. It had been an agonizing week searching for symbols, designs, and words that meant enough to her to have it branded on her body for the rest of her life. Although I am fairly positive that she has placed the idea on the back burner in her life right now, the question came up about what tattoo I would get if I could get one.
I knew the answer immediately: the North Star. When asked about the reason I would choose that, I realized that this particular symbol has held such deep and lifelong significance to me that I couldn’t explain it adequately in a sentence or two. So why the North Star?
I guess the story starts when I was around ten years old, and I was chosen for the envied role of Twinkle in the church dramatic musical production of Twinkle and the All Star Angel Band. I actually have a recording of this production somewhere, and I recently went back and listened to it. Even though it consisted of most of the children forgetting their lines and having to be reminded, that was the role of a lifetime for me. That particular character defined how I felt about myself, and to many degrees still feel about myself today.
The musical was a drama within a drama where my character (Marvel Ann) was one of the angels in heaven, and I was the thorn in the side to Gabriel, the leader of all the angels. I didn’t particularly like to follow the rules, and always tried to think of ways to do things “outside the conventional box”. I entered wearing a baseball cap because I had been using my halo for home plate. This unique personality made me the perfect candidate for the lead character in the first annual dramatic presentation of Christ’s birth in heaven. Gladys, the musical director, asked Gabriel to simply watch the presentation that she had prepared, and the host of little angels began their story.
All of us played various stars in the galaxy, and each one had their place. There was Tex the Lone Star, Wanda the wandering star, Niagra the falling star, Celeste the rock star, and then me…Twinkle the North Star. I was the outcast because I was the only star that couldn’t sing. I had no talent whatsoever; everything I tried to do turned out to be an epic disaster. Celeste tried to teach me how to play the harp, and I snapped the strings of her beautiful instrument. I was no good at anything. I sat on the sidelines as everyone else shared their great talents with all the other stars in the galaxy.
One day it was announced to the group that the day we had all been waiting for through the centuries had come: the birth of God’s son on earth. God had decided to choose one of the stars to be the one to shine in the night sky and point the way to baby Jesus. Everyone was shocked when God chose the runt of the litter for the job: Twinkle! “Why on earth would God pick me?” I wondered. However, the truth of the situation remained: God had chosen me, and I would shine brightly to point the way to the Christ child.
Throughout my growing up years, this theme held true to my life. I fit perfectly in both roles: as Marvel Ann, who was unconventional and creative, and Twinkle, who was entirely inadequate yet chosen to shine God’s light in a darkened world, pointing all to the Christ child. There have been many moments in my life when I have felt that I had nothing to give; I had no talent that I felt I needed to have to bring Him glory. However, the truth has stuck with me: God has chosen me for a very important purpose. I must learn to do what I do best: shine.
As I have grown older, stars have developed an even deeper significance in my life. Their intense beauty shines in the ultimate void and how glorious it is to see a sky dotted with balls of fire, beautiful individually yet breathtaking as a number too infinite to count fill the night sky. When I gaze into the heavens, I begin to see myself in my proper place as I realize how small I really am, and how great God must be to have created something so vast and big. I could look for a hundred years for the words to describe this wonder, yet I would not even begin to find the words to say.
And what a great God He is that He would know each star intimately. Psalm 147:4-5 says, “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” As I gaze at the night sky, I have often wondered what the names are that He has given to the stars. Why are they so important to Him? In the moments that I have struggled to believe that my life matters in the vast universe all around me, Isaiah 40:26-31 has been a deep encouragement in my life:
“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all of these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
NOT ONE OF THEM IS MISSING.
“Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God’?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
When I sit quietly and stare deeply into the night sky, I am reminded of God’s relentless love for me. He is beautiful and romantic, sweeping me off my feet as I take the time to sit in His presence. Sometimes I feel that He has set the stage for His wonders in this simple yet awe-inspiring creation. It reminds me that I am small and He is so big; yet this God that I serve cares enough not only to name each star, but to notice and be involved in every detail of my small life. How insignificant I must be, yet because of His great love He speaks significance into my meager existence. How can I do anything but shine for Him?
I don’t know if I will ever get that tattoo, but if I do, there is no question what it will be. My very purpose in life is to shine bright in the darkness, pointing the way to Christ and by my very existence inspiring praise to God. It is not about what I do for Him; it is about what I am being for Him. How great is His creation of the stars in the sky, yet how much greater of a creation are we? We reflect His image, and though this image is broken and distorted, God saw that it was worth the life of His own Son to seek to restore that image and relationship. You are not some insignificant life form, using oxygen until you leave this life. You are a marvelous creation of God, made to shine His light for all to see. Don’t miss the joy of simply being who God created you to be. SHINE!