Unlike all the people this past weekend begging for solar eclipse glasses online, Kevin has had us prepared for a couple months! Ever since he discovered that his parent’s hometown was in the line of 100% totality, he has planned on driving to Southern Illinois to view the solar eclipse.
I was more reticent. Would it really be worth the drive? Isn’t Jackson’s 90-some-percent going to be just as good as the 100%? But he remained passionately certain that we should go – so we did.
And the totality of the eclipse was beyond words amazing. We had done a fair amount of research before leaving to help build up hype for the trip. We watched news reports, old Walter Cronkite clips from the last great eclipse, NASA photos, listened podcasts, and sang Total Eclipse of the Heart countless times!
So we basically knew what to expect and to look for. The sun disappearing behind the moon was interesting to watch. But the last seconds before totality were breath taking. The trees around us looked like we were seeing them through a filter. There was sunset all around us in the middle of the afternoon. Cicadas made a ruckus from the fields. The moon created a last “diamond ring” with a shining bright white light. And then … totality.
All four of us quickly pulled of our glasses; we knew we would have less than two minutes to enjoy this view. God’s creation on display in a way very few people have the privilege of viewing in their lifetime.
In Genesis 1, God’s creation of light and dark are understated. The sun and moon are glorious creations that we so rarely take time to appreciate and enjoy.
Then God created people in His wonderful image. He gave us creative, imaginative minds – much like His. He gave us intellect and access to other created items so that we could spend generations studying this world He made.
So when a star appeared in Bethlehem, the brilliant minds of their day knew something was different – they had to follow this star to find the Messiah! God used creation to lead this group to Jesus.
NASA scientists, among others, have been able to track the sun, moon, and earth, and figure out when God’s creations will line up. Almost every 18 months, a solar eclipse happens somewhere in the world.
How terrifying these moments must be for civilizations who aren’t tracking them. Because, in totality, the sun goes out and the stars shine in the afternoon. Yesterday, the air grew still and a dark heaviness fell around us. It’s no wonder God has darkened the sky in the past as a sign – not just as a regularly planned eclipse.
When Jesus hung on the cross and died, the sky darkened for hours, not minutes. The Son who spoke the sun and moon into existence extinguished His own life so that we could have a right relationship with Him again. He lived His love in a way that our human brains could try to understand.
Two minutes holding your breath feels like forever. But two minutes glimpsing the marvelous sight of God’s creation yesterday felt like only a moment. In awe of what He allowed us to see – the brilliance of His sun and moon in the sky aligned. The halo sparked bright and the sun peeked out again, causing us to put our eclipse glasses back on.
A glimpse of God’s glorious creation in a way I may never witness again. That’s what we got to witness yesterday. A glimpse at totality. A way to use our God-given minds to observe His creation shouting praise to their Creator.
Psalm 19 starts with these words, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” This isn’t just on solar eclipse days – this is the job of the heavens every day. We just rarely take time to look up from this fallen rock we call home to marvel and meditate on it.
David ends his psalm with these words in verse 14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
As we post our eclipse photos and thoughts on heavy traffic, let’s take time to follow David’s example. Let’s allow every word of our mouth and every meditation of our heart to please our mighty Creator – the One who created light from nothing and set the world into orbit.
Remember, one day, we will all face this Creator. He will not ask us where we were August 21, 2017 or whether or not we drove to see the eclipse in totality. He will ask us where we have placed our trust – on earthly things? or on His Son Jesus Christ – for whom the sun also went out?
Did we, like the wise men, follow a celestial object across many miles in order to find the Christ? Or in order to bring attention to ourselves?
I’d love to see your eclipse photos and hear how you and your family reflected on the eclipse in a Christ-honoring way yesterday. You can find me on Twitter @R_Adelsberger or respond in the comments.