On Monday, August 21st, 2017 the moon will pass between the earth and the sun for a brief time, darkening the earth with its shadow — a spectacular sight that will draw a projected million people to the Southern Appalachian Mountains to witness the 2017 total eclipse of the sun. Eclipses are a naturally occurring part of the universe. So then, what is it about an eclipse that so rivets our attention?
Humans have always been fascinated by eclipses. In many ancient societies, eclipses were considered ill omens for kings, “unnatural” and frightening events that could weaken or dissolve the bonds of peace and kinship, leading to political upheavals. Other societies believed that eclipses held healing powers for the sick, or represented an opportunity for warring parties to make peace and put all their old hostilities and disputes aside.
Although most of us no longer attribute spiritual significance to them, we remain fascinated by eclipses. To some, an eclipse is simply a rare event not to be missed, a pretext for adventure. To others it may hold astrological significance — perhaps some clue to future events or their life's meaning.
What are you looking for?
On August 21st, darkness will creep over us, but after a few short minutes the light of day will return. However, we all know that life’s sorrows can bring darkness that lasts much longer.
Fans of 80’s rock will recall the popular lyrics by Bonnie Tyler:
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart 1
Most of us, laugh though we may, can relate to this melodramatic song. Who hasn’t suffered deep, painful disappointments in life…loneliness, depression, or loss of hope? For many of us, the wounds and disappointments are very deep and persistent. We look in our own hearts and at the world around us, grieved and puzzled at the darkness we find there.
There was a day in history when darkness covered the land for 3 hours at midday. About 2,000 years ago, a man was nailed to a wooden cross. The sun was blotted out with darkness as recorded not only in the New Testament in Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44, but also by the Roman historian Thallus, whose historical account was written circa AD 52. 2
Jesus faced the darkness that results from humanity’s selfish, wicked sin to return us to the Light that is the very presence of the Creator. He died saying, “Father, forgive them” and rose from the tomb three days later, bringing “life and immortality to light” forever, for all who repent and believe (2 Tim. 1:10). Comparing ourselves to the consummate standard of goodness, kindness, rightness, and justice demonstrated in Jesus, we see that all humanity falls short of that standard. Not only do we fall short of the standard, most of the time, we make no effort towards it, rather seeking our own agenda, opinions, and intentions, which may or may not rightly affect others and creation around us.
The Scriptures describes the Creator as the origin and very presence of the highest goodness and justness, and refers to His being and to relationship with Him as "Light." Corresponding to this, everything that is not in or of the "Light" is Darkness. Repentance involves acknowledging the Light, the Creator of the universe, who is and has declared what is good, right, and just, and admitting that we and our choices are not anything like Him; that we are and are in "darkness." Accompanying this is a willingness to turn away from all that is not like the Creator. Repentance literally means "turning back" and implies that we turn back to the Creator and yield ourselves to be immersed in the way the Creator made for us to return to Him. . . Jesus.
Indeed, the darkness in our world and our souls has a remedy. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He or she who follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:32)
We cannot overcome the darkness of sin any more than we could stop a solar eclipse. But Christ Jesus has overcome the darkness, and He can do it for you now. He is closer than your next breath and has invited you not to "get saved," but to leave the darkness and step into the Light that He is and provides in a never-ending, all-consuming, bonded and betrothed union with Him that gives purpose, power, and meaning to life now, and endless life beyond our physicality in the future.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary (worn out by life) and burdened (under a load of darkness, guilt, shame and sin) and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus defeated death, darkness, despair and provides for you a covering of light that darkness cannot rend or pierce.
Do not suffer in darkness another day.
Contact us if you would like to know more, have questions, or would like someone to pray and talk with you.
1.Total Eclipse of the Heart, written by Jim Steinman. Performed by Bonnie Tyler and released on Columbia Records, February 11, 1983.
2. Julius Africanus, Extant Writings, XVIII in The Ante–Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), vol. VI, p. 130
Guest Post by C.S. Miller, R. Tipton
Brian Wright, Ph.D.(c)
Engaging Faith & Society