The light shines in the darkness


Did you see the solar eclipse this week? Really remarkable. The effect this phenomenon had on people varied greatly. Some were elated and cheered like it was a game-winning home run. Others were subdued, reflective, and even emotionally tearful. Many stood with mouths agape, dumbfounded, without words to describe the marvel of the moment. Some found it to be a spiritual epiphany. And there were throngs entrenched in busyness, unable to observe the enormity of our massive sun being masked by the earth’s little lunar sphere.

(My grandson sported a new t-shirt saying, “I got mooned in Ohio.” Not a bad way to recount the experience.)

Me? I was a bit disappointed actually. I expected more. I wasn’t looking for the end of the world, or the appearing of Jesus in the eastern sky, but it just didn’t play out as I anticipated.

Robyn and I watched from our back patio, decked out in our spiffy $2 Amazon sunglasses (not very fashionable or comfortable, but good at preventing blindness; I’ll give it three stars). We’d been following the forecast about potential cloud conditions, as well as where the so-called “path of totality” would be.

(You probably know the “path of totality” isn’t an apocalyptic term from a sci-fi thriller, but where the sun will be “totally” eclipsed by the moon.)

As I understand it, the path of totality changed slightly from the original prognostications. Apparently, the outer corona of the sun is always exploding and changing in size, which modifies the sun’s diameter slightly. And as the diameter changes, so does the path of totality change here on Earth. But for me, I didn’t see how the difference would be that noticeable, and sluffed this whole Corona thing off as just another marketing conspiracy by Toyota.

Robyn thought we should drive to Hamilton to watch, as that location was spot-on for the shadow of the eclipse. That made a lot of sense based on the maps we’d seen, but, I thought, what about the traffic congestion and the inconvenience of traveling an hour to get there? After all, in Wilmington the prediction for the eclipse was a magnitude of 99.3%. In my mind, what possible difference could our being off course a minuscule 0.7% make?


99.3% isn’t a total eclipse, but a partial eclipse, like the one we had in 2017. Though it was still magnificent to observe, a partial eclipse doesn’t get nearly as dark. The light softened considerably here, and the temperature dropped, and the birds quit chirping for a few minutes, but our experience on the back patio literally paled to those observing it within the actual path of totality. Bummer.

There’s an interesting Biblical parallel to the eclipse, when John wrote this: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5, NLT). I find it fascinating that the eclipse was about the light of the SUN being obscured by the darkness of the moon, while this verse is about the light of the SON not being extinguished by the darkness of sin.

Think about it: even in the center of the path of totality, the light of the sun’s corona remained visible as it continued to flash explosively out from the edges of the moon. Though darkened, one’s surroundings didn’t resemble the pitch blackness of a moonless midnight, but were merely subdued like the light of dawn or dusk. The moon could not extinguish the light of the sun, only obscure it.

The same is true of Jesus, God’s Son. Even though sin obscures the Son’s light, it can never extinguish it. As blindly obtuse as we may be to the message of salvation Jesus offers, His light will never (never!) go out. Jesus is always shining, always calling, always wooing us to acknowledge His love and sacrifice; to come out of our darkness and into His light.

Peter said it like this: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9, NLT).

Does this make sense? As dark as your life condition may be, Jesus continues to provide illumination sufficient to find your way to His forgiveness and a fresh start. He wants a relationship with you.

Back to my missing the totality of this week’s solar eclipse, I’m thinking, “Oh well; no biggie; they say we’ll get another chance in 2045.” That’s cool, and I’m going to listen more closely to Robyn this next time.

Dave Hinman

Pastor Emeritus, Dove Church Wilmington

[email protected]

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