Monday, September 11, 2017

For as the heavens are higher than the earth…

Post by: Kyle Rasmussen

Did you see it?

How much traffic did you endure?

What did you do with your “special glasses”?

Of course I’m talking about the solar eclipse that ran across the U.S. on August 21st. My family and I happened to be camping in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. We still had to drive about 2 hours to get to the edge of totality. Even then the eclipse itself was a rapid event, so fast it was almost over before it started. We didn’t get stuck in too bad of traffic jams, but the human “mass migration” of cars heading south immediately afterwards was as much a spectacle as having watched the earth go dark in the middle of the day.

Near where we had parked there was (what I assumed to be) a vehicle of Native Americans who were beating on their ceremonial drums and singing into the darkening sky. Our son, Blake asked, “Why would they be doing that?” We explained that in their culture a solar eclipse is more than just an astronomical event; that deeply rooted legends about the origin and nature of the sun create a different significance for them. There are tribes who believe the sun itself is associated with their creator or another divine being. I’ve also read that many tribes believe that an eclipse represents some animal devouring the sun, so a loud and raucous song is needed to chase them away.

It made me wonder, how many other people starting into the sky that morning were seeking a “God experience”?

How many people had a deep longing in their hearts to get closer to their creator, and had ventured out onto the Wyoming plains hoping they would find God there?

Don’t get me wrong, He was most certainly there! He was there the day before, and the day before that, and last month, and in 2007, and 1492, and 683 B.C., and (you get my point!) As we sat there with our opaque glasses on because we couldn’t stare at the sun without risking blindness, I thought about Moses asking God to reveal Himself in Exodus 33. God’s reply - “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” If someone far from God that Monday morning ended one step closer to Him because of that awesome display of nature (which had the science nerd in me geeking out pretty bad by the way), then by any means fantastic!

But reflecting on that hope, something else in Exodus began to bother me (that those drums were provoking as well). “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20: 4-5) Anyone that was out there seeking God in the shadow cast by the moon, or thought He is contained in the light of the sun was missing the entire point of God’s second commandment to Moses. We don’t need to literally craft idols, we don’t even need to violate the first commandment of a monotheistic God for that matter. Merely putting God into a box we’ve created or by compartmentalizing Him into only some elements of our lives defies the relationship God wants with us.

Since the eclipse, our nation has been captivated and heartbroken by the hurricane and floods that have hit Texas and Louisiana. Undoubtedly there are many who have asked, “Where is God in the suffering?” or “Why would God allow this to happen?” Whenever these kind of thoughts creep into my mind I instantly recall one of my favorite verses from the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We cannot project our presuppositions about God onto His sovereignty. As Isaiah was telling the tribes of Israel that bad things were going to happen, more importantly he was telling them God had it under control. Are we not making a false idol of our God if we somehow dictate where He should be and what He should and shouldn’t be responsible for?

God was out there in Wyoming – although my best time with Him was not in the frantic eclipse but in the long clear nights at a picnic table with our daughter Noellyn, staring at the Milky Way that draped from the apex of the sky to beyond the horizon. I could not stop saying, “Wow” and “Thanks” to God, night after night. But through our TV and computer screens, have we not seen God in the flood waters of Texas? Neighbor helping neighbor. Stranger serving stranger. All the partisanship and vile of our political landscape leveled into a plain of common good.

God is there in the awesome. God is there in the awful. He has told us that we shouldn’t put boundaries on Him, because there are no boundaries on His love for us.

Kyle Rasmussen and his family currently live in Centerville, UT and attend The Bridge Community Church. He is a Quality Control Specialist with Holly Energy Partners in the greater Salt Lake City area.

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