Sun rising over milo at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Even sunlight fails

Have you ever seen an eclipse? They’re pretty shocking, if you haven’t experienced one. For it to be daylight but not … it’s unsettling.

From some early morning googling, it seems the first recorded solar eclipse took place around 3340 B.C. That’s more than 5,000 years ago! Can you imagine what people were thinking when that happened? There are eclipses mentioned throughout historical documents and literature all throughout the ancient world. Again, thanks to Google, apparently there’s an eclipse mentioned in Amos 8:9 (http://www.earthview.com/ages/history.htm) that took place in 763 B.C.

Eclipses are something that people have been watching for thousands of years, and I can only imagine how puzzled people must have been when they first started studying them. But for those people who looked at the Sun as though it were a god to be worshipped, an eclipse must have frightened them. For all they knew, sunlight was supposed to be constant and unwavering. The sun was always supposed to shine. It would shine until it set, and then it would shine again as it rose.

Maybe there is some benefit to eclipses that I don’t know about, like for nature or the universe or something, but for all I can tell, an eclipse exists for one purpose: To demonstrate that even sunlight isn’t constant. People who worship the Sun must have freaked out way back when because when the object of their worship went dark for no reason at all, they had no idea why it happened. Granted, we live in a more educated culture now, so we understand it. Or do we?

Sun rising over milo at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun rising over milo at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is James 1:17.Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

I’ve always loved this verse, but when I was a freshman in college, I learned to love it even more because I found out what the words meant. I took an astronomy course that year, and my teacher was a believer (it was a Christian college, but I think he might have been one of the only truly kind people there).

In any case, that statement “never changes or casts a shifting shadow” is actually in reference to the rising and setting of the sun, and the part about a shifting shadow is in reference to an eclipse.

Check it out in the Amplified Version:

Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].

Isn’t that cool? The Book of James might have been written as early as A.D. 45, and the fact that we can find something like this in there is pretty amazing. Astronomical, maybe?

So what does this mean for us today?

Well, here’s the deal. The Sun is obvious. It’s easy to look at the sun and trust that it’s going to keep shining no matter what. And now, in our advanced and educated era, we understand eclipses. We know what they are, and we know why they happen. We can even predict them! (There will be a solar eclipse in May this year.)

But the Sun is part of a created system, something God imagined and made for us to enjoy. Now what our world has done is turned the creation into a god or because we “understand” it, we consider ourselves gods. But the Sun, as powerful as it may be, isn’t in control of what it does or doesn’t do. It’s a star. It’s an average yellow star tucked away at the edge of an average galaxy in an ever-widening universe.

It’s tempting to put our trust in science and the things we can explain. The things we can’t explain or can’t understand are scary, so we either make up explanations or we ignore them. That’s what we’ve done with God. I’m sure that’s what people did with eclipses until they could explain what they actually were.

An eclipse is a sign that even sunlight fails sometimes. Even something that we think is as constant as sunlight can be darkened in an instant if God wants it to be. But God doesn’t experience eclipses. He doesn’t rise or set like a sun; He is constant. And there’s nothing in existence that can blot out His light.

So if you’re out and about today and the sun is shining (or even if it isn’t), remember to thank God for the gift of light, but remember that light isn’t a constant. And the light shining on us is only here because God wants to be. But what’s nice to know is that even if the sun stops shining, God doesn’t.

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Wind in the ripening wheat heads at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

When everything changes, God is constant

Kansas is a windy state. Many folks don’t realize that, mostly because many folks don’t think about Kansas. We’re kind of low on the totem pole as far as noteworthiness goes here in the U.S. We’re ranked 50th on the tourist ratings. Most travelers just drive through Kansas without stopping. And, yes, there are areas of the state that are immensely, ridiculously flat, but the whole state isn’t like that.

I love it here. I love traveling to other states, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But I tell you what: The wind in this state is nuts. The wind never stops blowing here. If we ever have a completely calm day, usually it just means that a huge storm is about to come crashing down on you (we have huge storms too).

Around here, especially in Western Kansas, the high, constant winds provide another outlet for generating energy. If you haven’t seen the wind farms in Western Kansas, let me tell you they’re amazing. It’s like you’re watching acres and acres of giant ballerinas spinning in the sky. I don’t know why they make me think of dancers because those giant wind turbines are standing still, but something about the turning of the blades makes me think of ballerinas. I don’t have a photo of them because the stretch of I-70 where you can see them the best prohibits stopping, but I’ve been tempted to risk it just to snap a picture.

Not just any place can host a wind farm cost-effectively. There has to be enough wind to make it viable. The point I’m getting at is that the wind is constant here, constant enough that putting a wind farm in the middle of nowhere is a good idea. If the wind only blew half the time, it wouldn’t be worth it; but you can always trust the wind to blow in Kansas. Wind in Kansas is constant.

Wind in the ripening wheat heads at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wind in the ripening wheat heads at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Numbers 23:19.

God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

All throughout January I’ve been posting about change and how life changes and how we can deal with it. Facing change with boldness, facing uncertainty with confidence, is not an easy thing to do, but what I’ve learned is that if you can find something constant in any situation, standing your ground gets a lot easier.

I hate talking to people I don’t know. I’m know good at talking anyway, but holding a conversation with someone I’ve never met is very difficult for me. But if I can find common ground, it’s easier. If I can find some constant between us, we have something to talk about.

I love visiting other countries. I love studying other cultures and other languages. But I’m not a linguist, and sometimes communication is hard because I don’t speak the language and I don’t understand all the cultural nuances. But I’ve met family, brothers and sisters in Christ, from countries all over the place, and even if we don’t speak the same language or come from the same culture, we have something in common. We all follow Christ. And that constant gives us something we can both relate to.

We don’t say a desert is constant because the sand is always shifting. It’s different from one moment to the next. The shorelines aren’t constant because the ocean reshapes them. But rocks? Rocks are eventually weathered away by erosion from wind and rain, but it takes a long time. When we see a rock, we think about it being solid and unchanging. That’s the difference.

And that’s the difference between people and God.

People aren’t constant. We aren’t steady. We may try to be, but it’s our nature to be blown on a different course every day by the winds of popular opinion or anxieties or circumstances. And while some have grown enough in their walk with Christ to understand the importance of being constant and steady, we’re still human; we’re still vulnerable to the lure of inconsistency, no matter how damaging it is.

I’m not saying you can’t trust people. We have to trust each other. But that trust always needs to be supported by a level of understanding that human beings are still made of dust.

But God is different. God is constant. Like the wind in Kansas, He’s always there. Like the giant rocks on the faces of great mountains, He doesn’t change. Like an anchor at the bottom of the ocean keeping the huge ships from drifting away on the tides and unyielding undercurrents of the sea, He can’t be bullied and He can’t be intimidated.

God is constant. Completely constant.

He’s always been there. He’ll always be there.

Coping with change in life is just like any other struggle we face, like talking to people we don’t know or venturing into cultures we don’t understand. If we can find something constant to hold onto, everything else will fall into place. And God is the constant we need in our crazy, out-of-control lives. When you reach out to Him, He’ll be there. He’s waiting for you right now, arms open, hands extended.

Will reaching out to Him make your life less nuts? Probably not. But when everything around you is spinning, it’s nice to know that you have someone to hold onto who isn’t.