by Louie Giglio
At the end of the day, all stars die.
Over time, a star exhausts its fuel as heavier elements form and the star contracts, becoming a white dwarf on the order of most of the stars we see shining in the night sky. Eventually, the white dwarf will cool down and turn into a black dwarf, which has no light or heat. However, this process takes so long, it’s believed that no star in our universe has yet reached this stage.
Red giant stars experience a more creative demise, shedding their outer layers of dust and gas in a round shape that resembles a planet when glimpsed in earthbound telescopes. When seen through Hubble’s superior lenses, these dust and gas clouds, called planetary nebulae, and other similar supernova remnants appear in random, whimsical shapes comprised of vibrant and varied colors.
Who knew that death could be such a glorious thing, producing some of the most mesmerizing spectacles in the heavens? And we’re not talking small-scale, earth-sized glory here; some of these nebula clouds defy description.
For example, The Eagle Pillar Cloud is a cloud-like tower of gas stretching 9.5 light-years (about 57 trillion miles) above the Eagle Nebula. One of NASA’s most famous photos of the Eagle Pillar Cloud is called “The Pillars of Creation.” This pillar cloud alone is just a tiny fraction of the entire nebula, though it’s many times the size of our entire solar system.
The irony is that if these stars were still in their midlife stages, they wouldn’t look quite so fantastic. Their beauty is in their death, a paradox that can also be true in you and me. I’m not referring to our literal deaths, although that moment can certainly be glorious if we have lived lives of faith and trust in Jesus. I’m talking about dying to ourselves while we’re still alive. This “death by choice” frees us from our own small and fading stories, allowing our days to count for something much larger and more enduring than we alone ever could.
Many of us seem determined to do whatever it takes to stay alive for as long as possible. And if we’re not careful, we’ll push ourselves to the center of our own little galaxies. We’ll do what we’re all prone to do: get whatever stuff we can and hold onto whatever we get for as long as possible.
Yet in the stars, we see beauty in dying. And in their Maker, we see the most glorious death of all. Christ made everything and owns everything, yet He chose to give Himself away as a peace offering for all humanity. He chose to take our blows, to carry our shame, and to bear sin’s weight and suffer in death. And Jesus’ death is still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
He said, “Whoever wants to save [hold onto or hoard] his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me [and my Kingdom] will find it” (Matt. 16:25).
But what does that look like?
It begins with a prayer: “Jesus, I want my life, my words, my actions, my thoughts, and all I hold dear to reflect Your glory today. I’m less interested in people seeing me and desire that people will see You in me.”
You might ask, “Why would I pray that? Am I supposed to be down on myself?”
The reality is quite the opposite. The God of all creation prizes you more dearly, finds you more valuable, and loves you more deeply than you can fully know. But you are just you, finite and frail, unable to exert supernatural power.
But that doesn’t matter because we know the One who breathed out the stars. We know Him who is faithful and true; the One whose power knows no end; whose voice brings forth the morning. Why would we want anyone staring at us, when they could see glimpses of Him?
This article was adapted from Indescribable, © 2011 by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman. Published by David C. Cook. Used by permission. All rights reserved.