Eclipses in the Christian Life

In 1983, the raspy-voiced Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, rocked the airwaves with her hit song “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” (Remember the hair?) Jim Steinman’s attention grabbing lyrics helped the tune stay stuck in the music zeitgeist of so many. That place where, once you hear it, you keep singing it to yourself over and over.

Once upon a time I was falling in love

But now I’m only falling apart

And there’s nothing I can do

A total eclipse of the heart

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

What Steinman wrote and Tyler sang about, however, was not merely a common phenomena of human relationships. Utilizing the universal human experience of the eclipse, they also describe one of the most ubiquitous experiences every Christian faces in their relationship with Christ. And isn’t it curious how the design of our solar system communicates such truth in the essential makeup of our material world? One might even think it was planned that way.

Eclipses are what happens when one celestial body moves into the shadow of another celestial body. So here on earth, we have two kinds. A solar eclipse occurs when our moon passes between Earth and the Sun and temporarily blocks out the Sun’s light. A lunar eclipse happens when Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, causing the shadow of the Earth to block the Sun’s light from hitting the Moon.

And both beautifully illustrate various ways in which the normal state of affairs in the Believer’s relationship with Christ can suffer.

The simply pictures are these.

Mankind was made to bear, to reflect the image of the Living God. Like the Moon, we are not meant to be light generating bodies – producing our own light, but those who – when there are no obstructions, beam with the reflected light of the God who made us. Reflecting the “Light of the World.” It is in this capacity we become too, the light of the world. But not out of ourselves, out of Him.

But just as in the case of a lunar eclipse, there are times when the World gets in the way. When the things of life, of this Earth and its lures, demands, kingdoms, desires – even GOOD things given to us by God family, work, etc., can take a position such that the light of the Son is blocked out.

When this happens, we no longer reflect anything. Our light goes out too. For we make no light of our own, it all comes from Him.

When this happens, we are no longer witnesses of Christ to the World, since the World now occupies space it was not meant to. Things are out of whack.

In truth, the Sun’s diameter is 109 times that of Earth. You could put well over a million earths inside of the Sun. But in these moments, in these seasons, proper perspective is lost. This World and the things in it, the things of life, have blocked out the light of the larger. And our souls plunge into darkness. Nothing of His light bounces off us to illuminate the World. We go dark. We fail in our mission.

But then, there is the solar eclipse model. This happens when the Moon, an even smaller object than Earth, blocks out the light of the Sun.

It is when we ourselves get in the way of the Gospel. When there is so much attention on ourselves, that the plans and purposes and goodness of God are blocked out from others – because we’re in the way.

Our opinions are more important than His truth. Our personalities eclipse the beauties of God incarnate in Christ Jesus and His cross-work. Our personal concerns, woes, cares, griefs, and priorities take such a place, that the message of the Gospel is lost in our darkness. Indeed, darkness falls over the face of all the earth. For the very ones created to reflect His glory, and redeemed from the Fall, so as to once more make Him known, fill the landscape and block out His light.

No, nothing has fundamentally changed in the universe. The Moon remains smaller still than even the Earth. The Sun is just as large and shining still in all of its strength. But we are in the way. In our own minds, and to the observation of others, we have taken center stage. And when this happens, darkness falls. Once again, we fail in our mission.

Eclipses of both sorts come and go are part of the natural order of our solar system. God made it so. But we are meant to live supernaturally, in Christ. We are meant to live in the light, walk in the light, and make His light known. At all times and in all seasons.

Christian, make sure the World has not blocked out the glory of Christ for you. For if and when it does, you give no light to a lost World either. And then, beware that you are not the source of blocking out the Light of Christ by making your life and circumstances, your joys or your woes, your plans and purposes nor your disappointments somehow occupy the space meant to let the World live in the light of God’s glory, goodness, grace, mercy and redeeming love. Make sure in all things, Christ may still be seen.

Philippians 1:20–21 “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”