Uneclipsed

Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

A mere 40 miles to the north or northeast of my house lies the path of totality for the solar eclipse this coming Monday afternoon. Being a bit of a natural phenomenon junkie, it might seem strange that I am not planning on packing up my crew and hitting the road to get inside that swath of real estate in which I could view the first total eclipse to happen in Tennessee in my lifetime.

But I am not.

While I confess that I would dearly, dearly love to see the sun in total eclipse, I also have a healthy respect for Nashville traffic. I know without a doubt that Nashville will have no shortage of traffic on eclipse day.

Just yesterday, I did have some hearty laughs with my friends who are making the trek. We imagined ourselves all stranded on one of the interstates in a gridlock of cars, the pre-eclipse August sun baking its way into our patience, and her spending more time looking to be certain that her youngest two children’s eyes were properly covered by the protective lenses than actually seeing the big event itself.

We laughed ourselves even sillier as we imagined putting their 6 kids and my 3 to work on a couple of preposterous inventions we came up with to protect the eyes of small children who had not been able to acquire the NASA-approved filtered lenses, hawking them on the sides of packed-out streets and parks in hopes of redeeming the hours lost to traveling north – or even find some way to turn the thing around should we be caught in a traffic jam a mile or two south of the path of totality and miss the thing entirely.

To be fair, I had been up since 4 that morning and they had just returned from a long road trip. But it was certainly funny at the time…. though you probably had to be there.

Anyway, all this eclipse talk and planning got me thinking about God. I admit that I did think of Joel 2:31 (The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes), but even beyond that, my mind strayed to the types of things that eclipse God’s glory in my own life.

Pain. That’s one for sure.

By His grace, I have been able to find purpose, hope, and even joy in the middle of chronic migraine and other assorted physical delights. Yet I have to admit that at times, weeks of relentless pain can seem to cast a pall over all of life, even seeming to grow so large as to hide the radiance of the Almighty in my days.

Then, of course, there is family strife – which is just another type of pain. Difficult circumstances. Riots and wars. Woe.

But not only hardship – sometimes the temptations and comforts of life in America can can loom large and I find myself quite suddenly walking in their shadow instead of walking in the Light.

Yet in each instance, whether trial or ease, I find that His glory has never actually changed. It only seems to be so because for that fateful instant, I have taken my eyes off Him. I have either allowed some promised pleasure or some dreadful difficulty snare my attention and come between me and my King.

How I wish that these spiritual eclipses were as infrequent as the solar variety! Even still, I take heart in knowing that they, too, are really nothing more than natural phenomena – simply a part of the process of sanctification as my Lord patiently allows me to see the transient nature of whatever it is that I have allowed to dominate my mind.

Whether it is pain or pleasure, I am thankful that the shadow always passes, revealing once more the steady and unfading Glory of the Lord.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalms 19:1

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A Small Glimpse of Glory

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.   — Psalm 19:1

A typical night: I went to let the dogs out before I headed off to bed. However, the night sky caught me and drew me in. I could see so many stars. I even think I may have, for the second time this month, seen a faint trail that could have been the Milky Way.

I was overwhelmed by thoughts. . . Far too much to put down all at once. Yet two I want to share:

First, that the Creator of all this splendor and all the vast array of the heavens would entrust such a faulty and unreliable vessel as I am to do His work! It makes me long to be more worthy, to be less wayward, and to be more fixed on Him. To  be loved by such as Him makes me want to be more lovable.

Oh, how I do love Him! If moments like this are just “seeing in a mirror, dimly,” I am not sure I can handle the real thing. But I want it; I want to see even more of His glory, even if I cannot survive it.

Beyond that, I was stricken with the thought that our enemy often masquerades as an angel of light.  More specifically, He counterfeits every single attribute of the Almighty; and he is subtle and he is wily.

The Eternal One and His Son are both called the Light in various places throughout the Scriptures — the Light of the World, a Light to the Gentiles, and so on. Yet what is it that masks the glory of God proclaimed in the heavens above? Light pollution.

Call me crazy — you wouldn’t be the first — but before you do, allow me to say that I do not believe all technology is evil or any such nonsense.

Yet I cannot help but think that our enemy tries to use every benign thing to cloak the glory of God. Even our artificial lights.  Maybe especially light, because it gives him that same grim satisfaction bullies get when they can use the good kid’s own goodness against him.

However, the heavens still proclaim the glory of God and they will go on proclaiming it even if no one can see it. His glory is beyond the enemy’s power to corrupt; it is beyond any power to destroy. There is no counterfeit of the enemy that can cover or contain the one true Light of the World.  He may have been able to dim the stars for a time, but he has not yet found a way to darken the sun.

And the Sun of Righteousness is oh, so much stronger and brighter than that little ball of blazing gas.

I don’t know what it is, exactly, but tonight in one brief, electricity-blurred, and mosquito-harried examination of the nighttime masterpiece, I was overcome by how truly great is our God.  He is truly Sovereign over all and I put all my trust in Him.

As the old hymn by Louisa M. R. Stead says, “Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33