Wednesday, April 3, 2019


Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.

At any given moment, our sun is releasing 386,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 watts of energy created through the process of nuclear fusion. That fusioning process converts about 600 billion tons of hydrogen to helium every second, resulting in about 400 million tons of matter being converted to energy every second. The core temperature of the sun, where fusion occurs, can reach 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

As we know, the sun is a star. In fact, though it looks much larger to us, it is just an average sized star. There are many stars in our own galaxy that are significantly larger than our sun. For example, Mu Cephi is 1500 times larger than our sun, Betelguise is 900 time larger than our sun, and Antares is over 500 times larger. That means you can multiply the numbers above that represent the activity of our sun by perhaps hundreds of times to approximate what is happening on other stars.

Doesn’t it seem ludicrous that we describe what stars do as “twinkling”?

I get that the song above is a children’s song. I get that when humanity first noticed the stars, they had no way of knowing that massive nuclear fusion was behind the pearls of light they saw in the sky. But we know that now, and we still refer to what stars do as twinkling.

We’re used to stars that twinkle; we’re comfortable with stars that twinkle. We think stars that twinkle are attractive and make for a nice decoration in our firmament.

I suspect that the language that we use to describe God is similar to using the word twinkle to describe a star. Karl Barth, the Swiss pastor and thinker once said, “The word became flesh, and through theologians it became words again.” I think when we try to describe who God is, and what God does, we risk just that. When we talk about God’s nature, God’s presence, or even God’s love, we’re really describing God’s twinkling and don’t begin to capture the unimaginable heat and light that is behind it.

For the most part, we are okay with that. We’re used to a God who twinkles; we’re comfortable with a God who twinkles. We think a God who twinkles is attractive and makes for a nice decoration in our firmament.

Many people have asked me why I’m going to Kenya in May. There are a lot of practical, ministry related reasons, and they all are part of that decision. But if I dig way down inside, I feel like I have become comfortable with God twinkling in my firmament. I’ve been aware of that for some time, and I feel like it is eroding a void in my Spirit.

There have been times in my life when I have managed to get a glimpse beyond the twinkling. It has always changed me. I’ve also noticed that it has happened when I was in unfamiliar territory in situations beyond my control, tools and resources.

Perhaps that is why people go on pilgrimages. When we purposely put ourselves in situations beyond the realm of our own comfort and power, our spiritual senses sharpen, and we can feel the heat and see the brilliance of a God that before had merely appeared to twinkle.

One famous Christian pilgrimage is called the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Compostela is a derivative of the Latin term that means “field of stars.” I used to think that referred to the beauty of the stars one experiences when out in the countryside away from city lights. Now I can’t help but wonder if the name came about because sometimes pilgrims on the trail are consumed by a fusioning God who previously only twinkled in their firmament. I hope so.

So, I’m going to Kenya and I hope to learn a lot, and experience a lot, and serve a lot. But most of all, I hope to come back with squinting eyes and smelling a little bit scorched.