I have enjoyed astronomy since I was very young, and even after decades of looking up at night, I’m still awed by the night sky. I get Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night, they display knowledge.

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaked late last week, and I happened to be back in my hometown, out in the country. Although my old town is close enough to the big lights of Dallas that there’s still a good (or bad, rather) amount of ambient light in the night sky, it’s still better viewing there than where I live now. The best time to view meteor showers tends to be in the wee hours before dawn, and while I wanted to get up early for this reason, I went to bed after midnight, and so I also wanted to sleep in. I decided not to set an alarm, but to ask God to wake me up around 3:00 in the morning, and leave it up to Him.

Something woke me up just before 3:00.

I was tired, but decided that God really did want me to get up, so I got my camera and went outside, and waited.

…and waited.

…and kept waiting.

The Perseids weren’t living up to my expectations. I have since read that there were places where people were seeing more than 200 meteors per hour, including several nice fireballs. I saw no fireballs, and only saw three meteors during the two hours I spent watching. I didn’t manage to photograph any meteors at all, but did manage to catch a firefly, which is what the green streaks in the above photo are.

As I sat there waiting, I also prayed, and connecting prayer with waiting for meteors, with photography, and with a sky that wasn’t giving me what I’d hoped, I saw some similarities.

First, photographing the stars requires long exposure times. In non-photographer speak, this means that the camera’s shutter has to stay open a long time. If the exposure isn’t long enough, you won’t see much – only especially bright objects. The longer the photo is exposed, the more detail you see.

I’ve found that the more I expose myself to God through prayer, the more clearly I can see Him at work around me, the more clearly I see the world in His light. When prayers are sporadic, when I’m spending little time with Him, He becomes dim.

Second, I had my own expectations for what I wanted. I wanted lots of meteors and bright fireballs, and I especially wanted to photograph some of the action. Instead, I saw few meteors, no fireballs, and only managed to photograph (in addition to the stars) a firefly.

Are the stars less amazing than meteors? Is a firefly less amazing than a fireball? Think about it.

If I have expectations of God, and I’m fixated on those expectations, then I’ll miss what He’s doing all around me all the time. I’ll forget that what I consider to be small things are actually pretty amazing. I will get jaded to the power of the everyday graces and miracles God is constantly parading before me. This will affect my prayers. Philippians 4:6 reminds me that all of my prayers should be accompanied by thanksgiving, and if I’m only seeing all of the answers of “No” or “Later” that God is giving me, I’ll won’t see and be thankful for all of the “YES‘s” that He’s pouring out on me.

And third, I was convicted by the fact that while I was willing to deprive myself of hours of sleep in order to watch for meteors, I almost never make time to deprive myself of sleep in order to converse with God.  What does that say about what I truly value?

Are there some times that God has spoken to you through His creation?

Have there been times when you learned about God through disappointments and unmet expectations?