Around 2:15pm EST, I will be taking a work-break to watch the total solar eclipse, and I am excited.
I feel like a school boy, giddy to see a science project explode in chemistry class, or something. I have never witnessed a magnificent astronomical event before, and this may be the only time I ever do! I even made my own cereal-box pin-hole projector (mostly because all of the local stores ran out of the solar-safe glasses).
As I was reflecting and daydreaming about how beautiful this event will be, I was struck by how metaphorical a solar eclipse is.
As the earth orbits the sun, and the moon orbits the earth, the opportunity for a total solar eclipse occurs about once each year or two somewhere on the planet. In the United States, it's relatively rare. The next chance to see a total solar eclipse in many of the states will be in 2024, then in 2045 after that.
During these events, the moon orbitally crosses directly between the earth and the sun. The moon obscures the sun in phases, with partial dimming, then total darkness occurring for a few surreal minutes.
I think that these events are beautiful metaphors for our relationship with God during troublesome times. Let me explain.
When total solar eclipses occur, the moon is in its "new moon" phase, which we usually cannot visibly see. The night sky is incredibly dark during new moon phase. Just like during the dark times in our lives, we don't always clearly see what is causing our pain or our anxiety. It could be a relationship in conflict, or a stressful situation -- but sometimes, we just don't know why we feel the way that we feel. In our struggle, in our emotions, in our worries, it's just dark.
But, during total solar eclipses, the sun reveals the moon in its new moon phase. Although the moon obscures much of the sun's light from reaching earth during those few dark minutes, the sun's rays can still be seen glimmering from behind the edges of the moon's spherical outline. Just like during the dark times in our lives, God sheds his light on our troubles and fears, showing us the roots of our emotions. And even if the trial darkens our gaze for a few moments, God is still there with us, and still shining His love and wisdom as brightly as ever.
It is beautiful, isn't it? Forgive me for waxing poetic. (Yes, the moon-phase pun was definitely intended.)
In Deuteronomy 31, just before the Israelites cross the Jordan river into God's promised land, an older Moses says these words to his young successor, Joshua in verse 8, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Never means never. God is always here with us.
Even though we can't see the sun for a few moments, the sun is surely still there. Even though we can't always see God in our troubles, God is surely still there.
I take great comfort in this, and I pray that you do too. Have a fun and exciting time viewing the 2017 total solar eclipse, and be sure to protect your eyes!
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES