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Pastor Jay's Blog

The Little Glory and The Big Glory of the Solar Eclipse

Would you please humor me for a moment? That’s right, I need you to just nod and smile for a bit while I try to unload this weight of glory that I can’t stop thinking about. Yes, yes, it’s about the eclipse. But there is more to share and someone needs to know what God has done. You’re reading this so I guess you’re the one.

A little Glory

First, I want to tell you what a gracious thing God did for the Lickey family. As those in our church probably know, we east Kansas people missed out on the great American eclipse of 2017. My family was excited to see that grand spectacle but all we saw were clouds. I caught one brief moment of partial eclipse as we were messing with car seats, but that was it. Have I been harboring bitterness about those clouds? Well, “bitter” is a strong word, but “disappointment” isn’t strong enough - maybe a peeved grieving. We made the most of it, but man…I couldn’t believe we missed the main event. Seven long years away, in 2024, there was another eclipse that would come through, so the planning began.

I want you to see the glory of God, but I first want you to see it in the little details before I get to the eclipse itself. I want you to see it in his merciful and gracious goodness toward one little family and one bummed-out man. His grace and glory can be seen in the following:

  • -The Lickey family is 7 years older for this eclipse which meant every member of our family got to appreciate it in a far fuller and more memorable way. Sometimes God’s “no” is really just a “not yet.” Things can be better than what we thought it could be. I am thankful for God delaying our eclipse experience.
  • This eclipse was twice as long as the one in 2017, four minutes instead of two. I can tell you right now that I was not ready for the eclipse in 2017, and especially not for a 2 minute eclipse. I didn’t know anything except the basics. I had no plans for how to make the most of it. I didn’t know what to watch for. My kids were not prepped in any meaningful way other than safety. Two minutes would have flown by and I would have had almost nothing to show for it. But we were ready for this eclipse. It wasn’t just 2 times longer, it was 10 times more meaningful and we had twice the amount of time to do all we planned to do. And because of our preparation, we knew to video our family’s reaction instead of trying to get pictures of the eclipse that wouldn’t have been any good any way. That video is now one of my most treasured possessions. I am so thankful for that.
  • God providentially orchestrated our family. Our original plan was to go to Texas where we had parents there already. We could do a few family things and see the eclipse. But clouds were moving through Texas. Oh, those menacing and diabolical clouds. All of a sudden we remembered we also had family in south Missouri. That could work! And work it did. All the pieces fell into place. Travel, lodging, supplies, various family logistics; all of it came together. And that is just the pieces we know. I am so thankful for God’s kind providence.
  • God answered prayers about the weather. As we kept watching the weather, clouds were once again threatening. No place was guaranteed. But we prayed and we watched for the best possible area. Finally we had to make a decision. Marshall, Arkansas was the place we settled on and as we drove, clouds were still covering the sky in their malicious way. But every mile closer to Marshall saw fewer clouds. Soon it was clear skies and we found a perfect location all to ourselves. Is it audacious to say that God moved the weather because we prayed? Of course not. If you’re willing to say that God sent his Son to redeem frail and ignorant sinners, then moving weather for them is nothing. I am so thankful for God’s answers to prayer.

So, the eclipse was amazing, and I will get to that in a moment. But I have been overflowing with thankfulness that God did so many little things just for our family. Omnipotence doesn’t mean God can just do big things, it means he can do all of the little things and fit them in with the big things. And actually, what is bigger: Moving the moon in front of the sun, or orchestrating a trillion details that make up the trillion moments of a single family? How can we even calculate things like that? As a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day to God, so little and big are no distinction for him. He can do it all. How wonderful it is that he is at work for his smallest children and delights to delight them. The giver gets the glory, and so he gets the glory for all the countless little good things he gives.

A Big Glory

So let me now talk about the eclipse itself, but let me set it up for you. I knew the basic science behind the eclipse and it is wonderful. I also knew that there are eclipse-chasers - people who will go around the world to see a total eclipse. That just seemed a bit ridiculous to me. Science is cool, and I was sure an eclipse is cool, but let’s be reasonable. Well, my ridiculing mouth has been closed. I get it now. If I had the resources to go see another I think I would. It truly is like nothing else I have seen.

If you haven’t seen a total eclipse, it is like trying to describe purple to a blind man. Seeing a partial eclipse is not the same thing. We heard people speaking of seeing 88% eclipse or 96% eclipse. So just 4% difference right? Not even close. It is the difference between seeing a lamb sacrificed in the temple and seeing Jesus the Lamb of God. A type and the substance are related but oh so different.

Looking up and seeing a pitch black hole with brilliant light surrounding it, and light wafting out in waves is nothing short of surreal. I knew what it was supposed to look like: I had seen the pictures. But if you have ever taken a picture of a mountain you thought was breathtaking, and then looked at the picture you took and realized that this does not capture it, imagine that to the power of 10. I have not seen a picture that captures what it is like to see it with your own eyes. Shocking. Unreal. Gob-smacked.

If ever there was a moment when you feel that there are things fantastical and otherly, and yes spiritual, this is it. Worship happens inevitably and unavoidably. You can’t help yourself. The only question is where does that worship go? For many it doesn’t go all the way to God. As Romans 3:20 tells us, it falls short of God. They truly worship the creation. And to be fair, there is glory there. But it is not the fountainhead of glory. It is just a large tributary that shows up in a big way a few times a year somewhere around the planet.

As Job 26:14 tells us, this is but the fringes of his ways. What a joy it is to go all the way to the fountainhead of glory. What an honor it is to sing his praise for such wonders. What an awesome God he is!