The Day A Nation Looked Up
August 21, 2017 was the day a nation paused, looked up, and collectively beheld just a smidgen of a shadow of a speck of God’s glory.
It took 2 hours and 38 minutes for a total solar eclipse to pass through 14 states stretching from the Pacific Coast of Oregon to the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina. In addition to the 12+ million people who live inside the path of totality, millions more traveled to witness this rare phenomenon. People in all 50 states observed at least a partial eclipse.
If you didn’t realize there was going to be a solar eclipse today, you’ve probably been living under a rock without access to running water or electricity. The fact is, people have been talking about this and planning for it for months. And that in itself is an amazing thing to note – that the movement of heavenly bodies is so mathematically reliable that astronomers can predict these things with remarkable precision even decades in advance!
A total solar eclipse is a truly extraordinary spectacle. To see the sun “set” in the middle of the day, in the middle of the sky, is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience for most people. And when else are you going to get to use terms like “corona” and “Bailey’s beads,” see fireflies and planets in the middle of the day, or feel a sudden 10-15 degree temperature drop because of the exact location of a big rock in the sky?
These wonders are fascinating and awe-inspiring, but it was something else that stood out to me the most today. All across the country, when that moment of totality struck and the crescent of light went black, in that split second, people cheered. I watched it happen again and again – first in Corvallis, then Idaho Falls, then Casper, Columbia, Nashville, and Charleston. There were oohs and aahs, whistles, shouts, and applause. For two and a half hours, God lifted countless eyes to the heavens and orchestrated a gigantic wave of collective praise.
Whether we meant to or not, our impulse was to glorify our Creator. The experience reminded me of the words of King David in Psalm 19:
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
The sun and moon didn’t say a word as they marched across the sky today, but their message was loud and clear: the Lord God is worthy of worship and praise! And if we won’t acknowledge Him or honor Him as God, the rest of creation will.
Don’t let August 21st be the last day you pause, lift your gaze to the heavens, feel a profound sense of awe, and send up a shout of praise. If one tiny corner of the universe is this beautiful, powerful, and glorious in one tiny sliver of time, what does that say about the eternal God who made all things? He’s worthy of all your tomorrows, too.