While the moon blocked the sun, God opened my eyes. Here’s what I learned from the solar eclipse:
1. God is awesome. Not awesome in the current, everyday, common use of the word i.e., “that game was awesome,” “those french fries were awesome,” “a day off work is awesome.” No, God really is AWESOME – “causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear” (dictionary.com). As I watched the moon move in front of the sun, I truly felt awe. Only an awesome God could create such an amazing sight. Many people were in awe of this event, but I’m afraid many of them missed the awe of the realization that this was God, the Creator’s, handiwork. The creation story in Genesis is full of awe. God simply said, “Let there be light,” and there was. It is so hard for our finite brains to understand the power of an infinite God. This eclipse was a reminder of how small we are and how truly awesome God is.
2. Even a little sliver of light can illuminate the world. In the minutes before totality, with our eclipse glasses on, we watched the last, tiny sliver of sun as the moon moved over it. I took my glasses off, and even in those minutes, with that tiny sliver of sun, the world around me was lit and visible. I could see my kids’ faces, the trees, everything around me because of that tiny, little sliver. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” After seeing the eclipse, I feel like I understand that a little more. When we live with the light of Christ’s salvation inside of us, it shines through us and into the world. There are days when I feel like I’m shining like the sun – bright, radiating. Days when I’m confident that those around me can feel Christ’s love through me. Then there are days, when the world gets in the way; it starts to eclipse me. I let my humanness, my sin nature, my insecurity block the light until there’s only a sliver left. Even in a total eclipse, though, the light shines. The Son is so powerful, that nothing can block his light. The God who put the universe in motion can help move, even the moon, so that his light can shine and his glory be known.
3. God’s timing is perfect. Hours before the eclipse was supposed to move through, I was out walking, rain clouds above and thunder rumbling around. I was torn. I wanted so badly to see the eclipse with my kids, yet I knew the rain was far more valuable to our area. I was feeling a little discouraged. We had planned to make and eat lunch outside so that we could be immersed in the eclipse experience, but as the clouds continued to linger, we moved inside to make lunch. Before long, though, someone caught a glimpse of sunlight, and we all rushed outside. Our first look at the eclipse, and we were hooked. Though the clouds still threatened to block our view, we took our lunch outside and set up a picnic in the driveway. With everyone’s plates full and the table stocked with extras, we ate and watched. The sky cleared and we got a fantastic view of the whole thing. The earlier discouragement was forgotten as we sat admiring the beauty of the eclipse. So many times, we doubt whether the clouds in life will disappear in time for us to enjoy what have planned. We start to think what we’ve been hoping and praying for won’t happen just because it doesn’t happen when we want it. “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, emphasis mine). We base our understanding only on what we can see, but the scope of God is greater. Even when we think the clouds have ruined our plans, we need to understand that they are a part of God’s. He will lift the clouds at the exact moment when his glory will shine brightest.
For the next week or so, everyone you meet will likely ask, “Did you get to see the eclipse?” Together we’ll share stories of who we were with, what we saw, and how much we enjoyed the show. As the excitement of the eclipse fades, my goal is to remember the One who made it possible. Totality only lasted for minutes, but a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe lasts for eternity.
“May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made! The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath! May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 104:31-34