On the Day of the Solar Eclipse

On Monday as Americans were watching the solar eclipse, something strange and wonderful was happening in my little corner of the world. In between running in and out of my house and sliding on my solar eclipse viewing glasses, I was engaged in a conversation with someone I didn’t even know.
Monday, as I mentioned on my ministry social media accounts was the first day of Elul. In the Jewish culture, Elul is the first of forty days of repentance. I also found this article written in 2014 about the solar eclipse that occurred on Monday. It is a very interesting read, and with all that is going on in America right now, it feels as though we are headed for something (http://watchfortheday.org/leoeclipse.html).
 
Back to my conversation. A person whom I do not know reached out to me via my ministry Instagram account. A picture was posted through their account that basically said something to the effect that Jesus is not God and that I should reconsider my position. My Sandalfeet account was the only person tagged in the photo. I later discovered this person was a Muslim man, who from what I can tell from the pics posted on that account, is a Syrian who is not a fan of the Assad regime. I only discovered he was a man because he asked if I was related to his wife because he said I argued the same way his wife did (ha…my husband should get a kick out of that!).
 
This man had access to Scripture and was desperately trying to provide me with an opportunity not to be “suckered in by only what my pastor says” and “really think about things.” He couldn’t believe that God would come down in the form of Jesus, and he believed that faith was not enough and not a concrete enough answer. As I pushed him further to tell me why he believed in God (his Allah) and where he believed he would spend eternity, his reality sunk in. He had no guarantee he would spend eternity in the new heaven. He said that he would only come to find out on his judgment day.
 
It was right about this point that I about gave up on the conversation, but I was pressed to ask a series of final questions: 1) what would it take to convince you that perhaps what you’ve been taught is incorrect (as he was trying to teach me that what I was being taught was corrupt and incorrect), and 2) what would it cost you to change your mind?
 
His response was exactly what mine would have been, “I would rather die than to change my faith.”
 
However, his next response was rather interesting. I had already told him earlier in our conversation that it was he who sought me out (not the other way around) so perhaps the Holy Spirit was pursuing him, and that my job was only to share the Good News and it was the Holy Spirit who convicted and changed hearts.
 
So, what did he say? He said, “If you could convince me, I would change my faith right now.”
 
At that point, I had already begun to wrap up our twelve-hour dialog and hadn’t seen this last response yet. I reminded him to be kind to his wife and wished him the best. As I went to bed that night, I prayed for this unknown man and his family that they would come to know Jesus as their Savior.
 
Tuesday morning, I woke up and checked my Instagram account to see if he had posted anything further overnight. Nothing. Our entire conversation was as if it had never happened. I wonder now if he deleted it because of his last response, “If you could convince me, I would change my faith right now.” I know the cost his family would endure for making such a change in his country.
 
I struggled on Monday with how we approach God these days—the Creator and Sustainer who set the stars in the sky. The same one who caused the events of Monday to occur in all its miraculous glory is still working all things for His good. I felt guilty on Monday because I didn’t spend the day worshiping God (I was in awe for sure, but my day went on after the eclipse was over), and I thought a lot about what people in the Bible would have thought about a sign in the heavens. And then I realized, God is still doing a work. Someone far, far away would have never been able to connect with someone in America during Bible times. It wasn’t a possibility. In a way, this man was like the Ethiopian eunuch who was trying to understand God’s Word (Acts 8:26–40) or Nicodemus who approached Jesus during the night (John 3:1–21). If God provides an opportunity where someone is asking questions, we need to be ready to answer. How they respond is not up to us.
August 21, 2017, began the forty days of repentance. Jonah was sent to Nineveh to warn them to repent, or in forty days they would be destroyed. The king listened, and the people repented, and they were spared. We all need to be seeking the Lord on our knees with repentant hearts asking God to give us opportunities to reach the lost. Evangelism is not a hobby or something to do when you have time. It’s a commission Jesus gave to all who believe.
 
Spend some time reflecting on Matthew 24. We need to be burdened again for the things of this world that oppose God and for the people who are completely lost without Him. You and I can be the Jonah’s of today warning the people because the alternative is something you and I don’t want our family and loved ones to endure.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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