Rising Stories #37: Sheila Atchley

Today on the show is my new friend Sheila Atchley. She is an author and an artist who captured my eye on Instagram. She has written and illustrated a wonderful book on women in the Bible. Believe me when I tell you that it is beauty upon beauty when her art meets her study of these biblical women.

What Sheila is reading:

Her three favorite things:

  • Hand poured DW Candle in Tobacco
  • Glasses with bifocals by Readers.com
  • Pixie Make-up by Drugstore.com

Connect with Sheila

Blog // Facebook // Instagram // Shop

Connect with Corine

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest

Music is by Ben Sound

Sponsor: Brentwood Life Coach

Numbering the Stars

Sheila Atchley

He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names…” Ps. 147: 4

By the time you hear this podcast, and read this blog entry, we will have already experienced the winter solstice, then Christmas, then New Years, and we are now well into the days often sung about, “…in the bleak midwinter / icy wind made moan…”.

For years, I’ve watched the birds, the seasons, and the stars. The winter night sky is different from the night sky of any other season.  In every season, in fact, the night sky changes.  Typically, this is why I don’t take time to find any constellation but the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt. Stars never stay in place for long, and I get easily disoriented, from one week to the next, by all that moving-across-the-sky thing. The stars of spring are not in the same position as the stars of winter. 

This is all due to a few little minutes. Now that the winter solstice has come and gone, the circling of stars around the pole of the earth takes just a few minutes longer. The stars “rise” few small minutes later every day, all winter long, than they did the day before. In a month’s time, those few minutes a day add up to almost two full hours. It is simple to memorize this little formula, and join me as an Urban Winter Stargazer: one month = about 2 hours later. After the summer solstice,  that reverses, and night comes a few minutes earlier every day.  The whole star schedule is based on that simple equation.

All those stars.  And God numbers them, and calls each twinkling orb “by name”. I used to believe those words meant that each star had a number and a name: “This is Theubia, star number 3,786,479, 002.”  But that is not what “numbering the stars” means in the deepest sense.

When God numbered a star, He assigned it a particular place in the night sky, He gave it a name, a job to do, and a story to tell. If you don’t believe a star has a story to tell, you must get hold of the writings of EW Bullinger and JA Seiss. They contended that the gospel is spelled out in the stars, and I believe it. Though stars can never tell us detailed, personal messages about our future, they are set in place to declare the glory of God, and have been used since the beginning of time as a gospel-record.

So the Bible tells us God “numbers” the stars – assigning them a place in time and space, and giving them a message.

Psalms 90:12 says this: So teach us to number our days that we may apply our heart to wisdom.” God numbers stars, we number our own days.  In both cases, whether we are discussing the stars or your life, the word “number” is the same Hebrew word, mahnah!  It means to ordain, appoint, or assign. As imitators of God, you and I are given the privilege and solemn responsibility to number – not stars, but our very own days. God has established a blueprint or storyline for our lives, laying out a path much like the path the stars follow. It is our job to discover that path, and assign our days accordingly.

I’ve heard it said that time is God’s gift. It is His way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Ecclesiastes bears this out when it says there is “a time for every purpose under heaven”. A star has a name and a purpose. I have a name and a purpose. A star has a message to proclaim; my life has a story to tell.

My effectiveness in declaring my message is directly proportionate to my knowing what season I am in.  I am given the authority to assign a season and a purpose to these miraculous ordinary days of mine. What season of life am I in right now? What choices are appropriate to that season? What is God saying? These are important questions.

For me, the overall message of my life is One Thing: the supremacy of Christ in all of life.

The ways and means I communicate that message will vary with the seasons of my life, but primarily I speak of God’s great worth through the means of my gifts.  I write, I make art, and in innumerable ways I feel like I am saying, “Come see the beauty of the Lord!”

The beauty of Christ in the life of a child;  the beauty of Christ, the source of the joy of the blushing bride;  the beauty of Christ as the gentle support of the new mother;  the beauty of Christ, the giver of peace as the nest empties;  the beauty of Christ, who ordains exciting new exploits for the second half of life;  the beauty of Christ who carries the frail body of old age, and infuses it with a sparkling soul.

I know of a dear, elderly woman who cannot remember her own son’s name at times. But if you begin reciting the first few words of a chapter in the Psalms, she will commence to finishing it for you, word for word. Oh, the glory of His message in our lives, in every season! It is the veritable fulfillment of Philippians 2:15, telling us that we are the children of God, and “we shine as star-lights in the world!”