A few nights ago everyone was abuzz with the news of impending meteor showers; supposedly some of the most spectacular views of the year were to be seen — if you were fortunate enough to have no cloud cover and hardy enough to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Indeed, having seen meteors before they are spectacular and exciting. I remember one night as I drove up Interstate 91 at about 3:00 a.m. returning from a trip out of town – I was startled when a huge ball of fire shot across my windshield bringing to an end a perfectly good “snoozing as your drive” nap.
Another name for a meteor is “shooting star.” While not actually correct, it is an apt description. They are however, quite different from those fixed points in the heavens which actually are stars; suns or planets reflecting their sun. We have the Evening Star and the North Star for instance; the latter being a constant for navigational purposes. It is interesting to note that we don’t see “shooting stars” nearly as often as we see, let’s say, the North Star. By their very nature they tend to be more highly anticipated, garner a great deal more news coverage, and certainly create a lot more excitement than a star that is there every night. If you should become lost though, in the wilderness or at sea one does not look for a shooting star – but a fixed point; something that hangs in the sky at the same place every day. You can always find it and when you do, it enables you to determine which direction you should travel to safety. There are many fixed points that bring comfort to the traveler who may be unsure of the direction he should travel: a familiar mountain peak, the rise of the moon, or in a more reflective mood – a faithful mentor.
We have an abundance of “shooting stars” in the Body of Christ. They blaze across our sky with flame and fury, lighting up our lives and exciting our senses. They have a new view, a new revelation, a new interpretation. Things “happen” around them and we are drawn to their magnetism and charisma. It seems like the dust and mustiness of the old is burned away in the flame of the new and fresh. The “chains” of the old ways seem to fall off and I am set free to fly into a new and mystical aura of revelation. We are liberated from the tiredness and sameness of our faith and are set sail on a new and exciting voyage of faith. Except there is a problem with “shooting stars”; you cannot set a sure course by it. They are all over the place; each one flying off in his own direction – there is no north or south, east or west – there is just motion. And there is another problem – they burn out so quickly. “There! Look! Did you see it? It was right there!” As quickly as they ignite, the flame out.
I was once a “shooting star”. I wanted to set everything around me on fire. I was a ball of energy that left trails of activity (and sometimes debris) behind me. I flittered from program to program, idea to idea faster that a speeding bullet, burning people up like so much fuel for my furnace. I accomplished a lot of good things, and I bless God for it because now I know that often is was in spite of me, rather than because of me. One day, I realized that while shooting stars are fun you really can’t set a sure course by them. You need a fixed point, a North Star, in order to establish a sure way.
I am 64 years today. Some consider me to be tired and worn out, too fixed in my ways for a modern spiritual wave. A young fellow told me that recently and when the words fell from his lips it struck me like thunder. It is true. But, I would rather be a fixed point by which men and women may chart a sure course toward Christlikeness than to be a shooting star blazing across their sky, but leaving them lost in a spiritual forest unsure of which way they should walk. I don’t believe there is a “new” revelation to be had. We have the revelation of God and that revelation is written in the Book. There are those who will tell you that there is new revelation to be had that goes “beyond the Bible”. A new and more exciting way, and that guys like me are stuck in the past and unable to move into the new mysticism.
I am not “stuck”, I’m rooted; rooted in a Word that is unchanging and unfailing. It is not evolving and it does not reveal a God Who hasn’t yet made up His mind. It is the “north star” by which I chart my course and it is the navigational “fixed point” to which I direct others who are seeking to find their way. I have a firm belief which drives some of my “shooting stars” mad: “If it is new, its not true and if it is true – it is not new.” J.C. Ryle wrote over one hundred years ago, “we must return to the old paths.” In this book, Ryle declares that there are truths rooted in our heritage which have been abandoned in favor of a new and evolving gospel that is metastasizing throughout the body of Christ in which man is the center and the will of God is marginal at best.
The apostle Paul warned of a day when men would “gather unto themselves teachers” (chase shooting stars?), who will tickle the ears with new and exciting doctrines, which while exciting, lead men away from the tried and tested. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof is destruction,” is a serious warning. You may chase the shooting stars that flash across the sky from time to time, but be warned: When they go down in flames, many will follow them. I know, I once was a shooting star. However, I have made a conscious decision. I want, with God’s help, to remain a “fixed point” that men will find faithful and sure, and always pointing them to the cross.