by Heather Bock
Less than three weeks ago, millions of people moved into position to watch the moon slowly, but completely, block out the light of the sun. My family was one of those clogging the interstate as we made our way from Knoxville to the path of totality. We passed rest stops closed, full of people who had long ago staked out their places. We were trying to reach Nashville, but with the traffic and a child’s full bladder, we pulled off and parked in an Arby’s parking lot in a town I’d never heard named before: Gordonsville, TN.
It wasn’t exactly a stunning background for one of the most spectacular natural events I will ever witness. However, it turned out to be just the right spot–an otherwise unremarkable place that a family from New York parked beside us had pinpointed as just the right parking lot from which to witness the longest period of totality.
As we walked across the street, spooning thick Wendy’s frosties into our mouths to stave off the heat, we noticed the light dimming somewhat and the temperature mercifully falling a bit, but it certainly wasn’t dramatic. It was a strange light–like the air had been filled with invisible, odorless smoke. It was darkening some like at sunset, but the shadows were all wrong. When the sun was around 98% eclipsed, we noticed the street lights blinking on around us, but it still didn’t seem that dark.
Then that moon slipped entirely over the sun, and the difference was dramatic.
The entire sky darkened, leaving a small rim, lit as if at sunset, encircling us around the horizon. As we had been prepared they would, the stars covered the sky. The crickets started chirping. The sweat bee, which had been harassing us, left us alone.
Seeing nothing but blackness in my eclipse glasses, I whipped them off and stared in awe at the sun’s corona. I will never forget that sight. The dark circle of the moon was in stark contrast to the gently glowing, uneven halo surrounding it. It was the afternoon, but it was night.
The two and a half minutes were over quicker than I could have imagined, and as soon as the sun burst out from behind that dark disk, while it was still only showing 1% of its light, we were all forced to look away, to hide our eyes behind our dark glasses. I was struck by this almost more than seeing the full eclipse itself. One percent of its light, and compared to the darkness of its full covering, it was if it were full day again.
People groups in times past spent their days worshiping the sun, and without God, I can understand this misdirected adoration. What it does for our planet is something truly amazing.
However, if you know God, you know that He set it in motion, and all it can do on its own is point to Him. Its steadiness only serves as a reminder of the Creator’s perfect faithfulness. Its heat shows the comfort of our Father. The life it gives to plants mimics the spiritual life we receive from the true Giver of Life. Its light? It can never shine as brightly as the Light of the World.
Is our world darkened? Are there devastating hurricanes, wild tornadoes whipping through neighborhoods, wildfires ravaging state after state? Do people take advantage of the ruin by spiking prices for necessities like water or by pretending to be ones who have lost their homes? Are men and women ignoring or actively hating others created in the image of God who happen to have a darker skin tone? Do we have brutal wars and mass killings on campuses?
It may be dark, but Christ’s light shines brighter. God’s light shining through us can pierce it as if it were broad daylight no matter how much of the evil is covering it. The sun might be able to be fully eclipsed, but our God never can.
Many who have studied pictures of the eclipse have said that when the sun’s light has just barely flared out from behind the moon, it looks like a diamond ring. Christ’s light has brought us a wedding ring as well. We, the Church, the followers of Jesus, are the Bride of Christ. We are forever bathed in His light, so let us shine that light forth in the darkness. Let us break our light into places others won’t go for fear of the dark.
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”