Three Lessons from the Eclipse

On April 8, we witnessed a great celestial spectacle – a solar eclipse. The moon passed between the earth and the sun, covering some of the sun’s surface (partial eclipse) or all of the surface (total eclipse).  As the moon covered more and more of the sun, the temperature decreased, the sky darkened, and the animals behaved strangely, preparing for night, even though it was daytime.  In the parts of the country treated to a total eclipse, people could look directly at the corona of the sun without eye damage, but only for the few minutes’ duration of totality.  I had the opportunity to watch the total eclipse with two of my cousins, and took away these three lessons.

1. Protection

We were given strong warnings – do NOT look directly at the sun without protection, or risk blindness. The authorities gave us those warnings because they wanted to keep us safe, not to deprive us.  Protection was available – inexpensive glasses with lenses manufactured to tested specifications.  Still, some people did not heed the warnings, did not get or use the glasses, and ended up damaging their eyes.

In the same way, God gives us clear warnings in His word.  One example is the Ten Commandments.  He gives us these instructions because He loves us and wants us to thrive.  Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10).  

The warning to not look at the sun also reminds me of God’s warning to Moses in Exodus 33:20. “Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live.”  Again, the warning was given out of love and protection, not to deprive.

2. Location

What we saw depended on where we were.  Those on the center line of totality saw the most spectacular show, both in how dark it got in the early afternoon and in how long that darkness lasted.  During totality, stars that were there all along suddenly became visible, and only for the few minutes of totality.  Before and after totality, the light of the sun overpowered the light of those same stars.  A few miles away, with only 99% of the sun covered, the effect was much less dramatic.  In the same way, when we are in the center of God’s will, He does amazing work through us.  When we are a little bit off center, we are not nearly as effective.

3. Interference

During the eclipse, the moon got in the way of the sunlight.  In the same way, we often let things get in the way of our closeness to God.  They may be good things – money, hobbies, sports, relationships, travel, school, jobs, etc.  But if we allow them to interfere with our devotion to God, they become a hindrance.  The remedy? “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

In conclusion, let’s ask ourselves these four questions, and answer them honestly:

  1. What warnings am I ignoring?
  2. How closely am I living to the center of God’s will for me?
  3. What am I allowing to eclipse God in my life?
  4. Am I waiting for something drastic to happen before I choose the best path?

If we don’t like the answers, we have a promise from God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).  May God help us to choose to hear His voice and obey.  “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”  (Jeremiah 6:16a)

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