Totality

It’s said the difference between 99% and 100% coverage for a solar eclipse is literally like night and day.

As I’m writing this, droves of people are traveling to very precise locations along the path of a solar eclipse moving across the United States in hopes of experiencing 100%.  For them, the expense, time, and effort are worth it because of how utterly profound an impact that 1% makes.  In the seconds leading to totality, the fullness of the moon’s deepest shadow makes the landscape significantly darker and colder.  The stars become visible, animals and bugs are fooled into thinking it’s evening, and some spectators report colors looking different.

Most spectacular, though, is the visibility of the sun’s corona.  As the moon aligns perfectly with the sun, blocking it completely, only the fiery edges remain, creating a display unlike anything most have experienced.  In fact, it is the only time that it is safe to look at the sun with the naked eye; any other time, and you can permanently damage your eyes.  People who have experienced totality say if you have the opportunity to see a total eclipse, do not miss it.

For everyone else, it’s an interesting novelty.  People will step outside and look with awe at the sun being partially blocked, noting that it’s slightly darker and cooler than it should be, akin to a particularly cloudy day.  They can’t look directly at the sun, so they will purchase special glasses that block everything but the extremely bright light; if they don’t have glasses, they will use a shoebox to replicate the sun through a pinhole, or even just look at the strange shadowing through the leaves of a tree.

It’s interesting, but does not compare to totality.

In certain situations, the difference between 99% and 100% may seem small, but is quite the opposite.  When totality matters, “almost” may as well be 0%.

Perhaps this is why God is emphatic in scripture about what it means to be “all in.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,
Proverbs 3:5-6

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37

“All” is not a flexible word.  God does not say “Trust and love me with some of you,” or even “most of you,” but with totality.  However, we operate as though “most” is sufficient, especially when we experience God along the way.

We must recognize there is a enormous difference between 99% and 100% commitment to God.

Just as with a partial solar eclipse, partially committing to God can be a powerful experience, but nothing compared to totality.  You may see things you never saw before and sense changes in the atmosphere, all the while unaware of what you’re actually missing with that 1% difference.  The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 13:12:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Most people will only experience seeing the sun’s eclipse through special glasses, a box, shadows, or pictures; those positioned in totality can remove their glasses and see it with their own eyes.  When you 100% “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) you will see God in ways you never imagined, with a fullness of spiritual understanding that makes your human understanding seem foolish.

Blessed are the pure in heart [100% seeking and trusting], for they will see God.
Matthew 5:8

Just as the sun will damage your unprotected eyes, seeing God is no small thing: “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)  We cannot handle the sight of God; even the sight of an angel made people crumble in fear!  However, because of Moses’s pursuit of total commitment to God, He made a way:

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Exodus 33:18-23

Experiencing the fullness of God was such a supernatural experience that it even led Moses’s face to glow!  “When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:30)  Aaron and the people had experienced God… but it was nothing compared to what Moses saw!

Too often we settle for seeing a version of God, or some of God, because totality seems too costly, or impossible, or something we don’t deserve.  We’re not wrong!  Jesus constantly notes the costliness of following him, shares that “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and Paul says “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

It is too costly, it is impossible for us, and we do not deserve it.  How, then, do we reach totality?

  1. Acknowledge the importance of “all”.  Until we own the reality that God requires “all your heart and all your soul and all your mind,” we will continue to give only what is convenient and makes sense.  We will be like the disciples in John 6:66 that were with Jesus up until he said things they didn’t like, then turned and followed no more, or Peter who was willing to die for Jesus, then denied him three times.  99% doesn’t cut it when there’s still 1% that may turn and deny.
  2. Acknowledge that you can’t reach totality on your own, and need the Spirit.  Peter truly was willing to die for Jesus — he pulled his sword on armed guards — but fell short.  Jesus knew this would happen, which is why he sent the Spirit: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)
  3. Acknowledge that you can pursue 100% even when you can’t reach it.  The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Philippians 3:12 (ESV): “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”  We can journey towards God even when the journey seems foolish or hopeless, because Christ made the ultimate journey and journeys with us still!

Our human understanding and pursuit of perfection can leave us mistaken on what God is inviting us to, so let me put it plainly:

God is not calling us to be perfect, but to be perfectly His.

He alone is perfect, though we are made in His image; the more we trust and love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, the more we come to see Him fully, not dimly as in a mirror or through special glasses.  Knowing God partially leaves room for our hearts and minds to deceive us; in totality everything looks different, “for the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 10:25)  In fact, unlike an eclipse, total commitment to God will allow us to see reality as we never have before; as Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Our invitation is 100% commitment to Him, through Him; that journey begins today.

 

…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Philippians 3:4-16

Related Comments

12 Responses

  1. These are important words. I also had been thinking of Jesus words..
    Jesus Says to Watch and Be Ready for His Second Coming .
    Many many people will be waiting and watching for the eclipse, but are they willing to watch and wait with the same excitement for Him?

  2. Very good, Paul. My thought is for you to submit this to CT or other like places. Really helps seeing the difference between total and partial commitment.

  3. God is not calling us to be perfect, but to be perfectly His. YES! I’m going to share this with my students in China.

  4. Just an added thought, it is impossible to give 100% if a believer has not died to self according to Col 3:1-4.

    1. Otherwise, there is sooooo much we will hold to and protect. That’s the hard part of the journey… thinking we are all in, and discovering we were still grasping to something else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Subscribe To YWAM Posts

Subscribe to our mailing list and get YWAM updates straight to your inbox.

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously