Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sand and Stars

We read a new book from my mother on a recent trip to the temple, I Love You More, by Judy Cooley. Without giving away the ending, a daughter and father have a contest of comparing how much they love the other, getting bigger and better each time. Near the pinnacle of competition is the trumping of "I love you more than there are grains of sand on the beach," with "I love you more than there are stars in the night sky."
That's a lot of love.

This comparison reminded me of the wonderful promises given to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic covenant: "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore" (Gen. 22:17).

I wondered which was more—sand or stars. Elder Maxwell has sited the results of scientific research that there are "more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand in every beach and desert on Earth" (see full article here). Wow!

More stars, then.

The similarity of the numeric comparison of sand and stars made me think that there may have been something more profound implied. As part of Abraham's covenant, I am one of the near-numberless grains of sand posterity. But even more, I know that I can be "as the stars of the heaven" (Gen. 22:17) in quality and brilliance, through Christ. I feel that my potential is more like that of a bright star, than of a tiny grain of sand. Perhaps the sand and stars can be thought of as quantity and quality, respectively.

The comparison of self to stars is limited, though. We are more valuable than stars—we are children of God! Our Father knows us and loves us. I'm reminded, again, of Elder Maxwell's astronomic comparison in this theme:

I testify to you that God has known you individually, brethren, for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26); He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys! By the way, you have never seen an immortal star; they finally expire. But seated by you tonight are immortal individuals—imperfect but who are, nevertheless, “trying to be like Jesus”! (link to talk)

I'm grateful for the knowledge and potential that is available through the loving plan of our Father, as administered in and through the atonement of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

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