I’m a sucker for natural beauty. I figure if God made it and man hasn’t messed with it, then it has to be special. Anything that has His fingerprints on it undoubtedly will contain a profound truth.
I first caught sight of the aurora borealis—the northern lights—years ago while visiting Alaska. I’d heard about them but never imagined what I was about to see. Once seen, I was hooked for life.
The northern lights display themselves in an east-west direction, stretching upward 600 miles and appearing as fluttering curtains, wispy haloes, rotating pinwheels, or heavenly pillars that dance across the sky. They show themselves most often in shades of green, but can appear equally impressive in yellows, pinks, dark reds and various blues. The northern lights are as striking as a brilliant sunrise except they rise in the wrong direction.
Throughout time, indigenous people of the north adopted these mysterious lights into their traditions and cultures. Tribes in Canada saw the phenomenon as approaching doom or angry ancestors returning in hologram form to wreak havoc on their enemies. Greenlanders commonly believed these lights were stories of future events being played in advance.
The Vikings believed the lights were the glow of armor worn by Valkyries, the war-like females in Norse mythology. Native Americans believed them to be the torches of giants that lived further north. During the middle ages, the Europeans were taught that the lights were heavenly armies battling Lucifer.
Approximately 100 years ago, the mystery finally was solved. The truth is, the northern lights are actually children of the sun. Let me explain:
The corona—the 200-million degree outermost layer of the sun—goes through a process called magnetic reconnection. That is, the sun literally reconfigures a portion of its properties into a new substance. This new configuration then ejects itself from the sun through a solar flare—an explosion equivalent to 160,000,000,000 megatons of TNT—spewing hundreds of millions of tons of electrons, ions, atoms and radiation away from the sun’s gravitation and into space.
This electrically charged mass travels via the solar winds at 2 million miles per hour. Within a day or two, these winds approach Earth’s ionosphere. Normally, they would pass right on by; but because they’re attracted to Earth’s magnetic fields, they make a bee-line straight for the north and south poles. Although most of the particles are deflected by Earth’s magnetic shield, sometimes the super-charged items find an opening and invade Earth’s upper atmosphere.
As they do, they’re introduced to atoms from Earth’s high altitude gases. When the sun’s charged emission is joined with Earth’s available receivers, cosmic fusion occurs causing a brilliant glow. The spectacular lightshow of the aurora borealis is performed!
In short, the sun—in all its glory—transforms and sends a powerful portion of itself to Earth, delivered by supersonic and highly charged winds. As the intensely empowered wave reaches Earth, it immediately discovers avenues to engage the culture. When it finds receptive atoms, those atoms suddenly are changed, energized with new life as they light up in dazzling fashion.
Does that sound like the incarnation to you? It does to me!
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman…to redeem those who were under the law…for we were full of darkness, but now we have light from the Lord!”
It’s the greatest story ever told, including when it’s told through nature; it should come as no surprise that the infinite Creator would leave His Son’s calling card on all that He made.
What a privilege it is that we’ve been called to fill in the blanks and proclaim the identity of this Savior who invaded human history to bring light and life to His creation.
Ron Walters is senior vice president Ministry Relations for Salem Media Group, Camarillo, California.