I have to admit, I didn’t expect the eclipse to be as startlingly beautiful as it was. When Sarah and I were in between Lusk and Douglas, WY, with tepid water in our water bottles and warm air blowing from the vents and sunlight beating in on us as we started to get a little drowsy, I have to admit, I was wondering if it would be worth the hassle of driving all the way to Douglas to see this event.
The eclipse commenced in the heat of the morning. Every few minutes, we looked through our glasses to see the strange sight of the moon slowly overshadowing a growing part of the sun. That was interesting, but it was only beginning. A spectacular drama was in the process of unfolding.
About a half hour before totality, we noticed that the sunlight was indeed dimmer. There was a strange cast over the landscape, almost like a haze, and even though the light was still bright, the intensity had diminished. The air had cooled, and we pulled on sweatshirts. As totality neared, things happened faster – The light changed more rapidly, and we noticed with delight the crescent shapes dancing in the shadows on the ground. The sky continued to grow darker as the moon closed over the sun. From the west, a deep shadow suddenly approached as the eclipse neared completion, spreading ominously until the whole landscape around us was bathed in a strange midday night. Venus appeared, almost straight overhead. A rose-colored curtain hung at the very edges of the horizon. For two minutes, we reveled in twilight, and everything was silent. The graceful moon completely covered our majestic sun, briefly cutting off the vital heat and life-giving light in an amazing display of God’s order over the celestial bodies.The corona around the black of the moon was breathtaking. The sky was deep violet, and the moon was darker than night. The two minutes of totality seemed to last a mere few seconds, and then the sun appeared again, and the nighttime soon warmed to day. Awe-struck, we knew we had witnessed a miracle.
An article in WORLD Magazine explained the phenomenon, that the sun, which is 400 times the size of the moon was at that moment 400 times further away, making this miracle possible. What clear evidence of God’s creative abilities, as THE creative mind, THE Creator of all things! But so many people will have watched this miracle and will have come away from it awe-struck, but with wonder misplaced. So many scientists spend their lives searching out the mysteries of God’s Creation, and somehow never reach the point of being humbled by our lowliness and God’s greatness. Too many people will watch this miracle and attribute it to random chance – But what are the chances logically that this could have happened?
God created a world where many miracles are simply a part of our existence. We need the plants and the trees and the animals and the water cycle and our atmosphere. But we don’t need the eclipse. If I lived my whole life without ever seeing an eclipse, my life wouldn’t materially be changed at all. It doesn’t benefit us in any way, in the way that a rainstorm or the seasonal cycles do. The eclipse is completely unnecessary.
I was reading through the Sherlock Holmes stories over the winter and stumbled across the gem of a quote: “Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from flowers.” I’d say the same holds true in the miracle of the eclipse. It is an extra. God didn’t need to do this for any scientific reason or reason of sustaining life on our beautiful little planet. Why would He, then? Although I hesitate to speculate, I do know that God does that which is for the good of His people and for His glory. I think that God, in His glorious love for us, decided to create a phenomenon simply out of delight, simply because He could and it would dazzle us and glorify Himself.
So wonder at the miracles we see every day, and the more spectacular miracles we are privileged to witness less frequently – And let your awe and your delight be directed where it belongs. Give God the glory, great things He has done!