All night long we can see the stars shining down on us, but have you ever considered the fact that they also shine down on us all day? It’s not like they adjust the brightness of their burning to our sleep cycles. They shine on, always the same, always contributing something to our light. The big difference for us is just that one local star who comes around every morning and shines so brightly that the light of all the other billions of stars in the universe can’t compete at all.
Our sun is not a large star, as stars go. It’s bigger than some, but there are a lot of stars far bigger than it is—some of them more than 100 times bigger. But those super-massive balls of burning light only look like tiny pinpricks in the sky to us, and they are easily drowned out by our average little local fireball whenever he comes around. It’s not the size of the star that matters most, from our perspective: It’s the proximity. Those huge suns really are huge, but they are too far away to keep us warm. They are too distant to pull us in and shape our calendars and seasons, too far removed to fill the face of our moon with reflected light at night. It turns out that what we need down here is not a good view of the biggest star in the universe. What we need is just an average sun to be near enough to us to give us warmth and light and life.
Isn’t this true of our relationships as well?
I know there are many times when we are mesmerised by human stars and look up in wonder at the shimmering brightness of film stars, sports stars, YouTube stars, and so on (there are a lot of stars). We may even be guided by them, like the sailors of old. But no matter how brightly these human stars shine for us, there will always be important things that their far away light can’t do for us. I’m not blaming them, it’s not their fault—they are just too far away.
This is why an average, ordinary friend who is next to you can bring warmth and light to your life in ways that no influencer ever could. This is why mothers and fathers can shape the seasons of their children’s lives more than any other humans on Earth. And this close proximity is how a brother or sister at church can light up our darkest nights like a moon, reflecting back to us the light of God’s goodness and promises even when we’ve lost sight of them. A far away human star, no matter how large and sparkly they may be, simply cannot do the simple, vital, life-giving things that are easy for the ordinary people around us—the people who love us and share life with us. The people who are close.
Proximity is more important than size. It is more important than magnificence. You don’t have to be the biggest and shiniest in the universe to bring warmth and light to the people around you. You can be completely average, like our sun, and do the job quite well. You’ve just got to be close.
You’ve got to be close.