I didn’t get to meet all of the speakers, but Josh Tolley, L.A. Marzulli, and Russ Dizdar are very likeable and approachable.
In April I came across a thing on the internet advertising Hear the Watchman prophecy conference in Boise, Idaho. End Times Prophecy is a subject that interests me very much—and if you follow my blog or have read my books, you already know this about me because I write about it a lot. Plus it was featuring some of my favorite prophetic speakers: Scottie Clark, L.A. Marzulli, Russ Dizdar, Derek Gilbert, and others. So I was interested, but when I saw that it was in August, I knew I wouldn’t be going. It’s expensive to cross that ocean, but more so in the summertime. It’s not my money, it’s God’s. But still, I’ve got to be a good steward of the resources that He’s given me.
When word of the conference came across my computer again a few days later, I saw something intriguing: they were offering to bus us out to the edge of the mountains to watch the eclipse shadow go racing across the plains at 600 miles an hour. Now that had me even more intrigued. I’ve been in 80 percent totality, but this would be 100 percent. And that perspective of watching the shadow was fascinating. In my mind, I was picturing something like in this video: Shadow.
Now I really wanted to go. But I don’t do anything without God’s blessing. So I asked Him? In fact, I think I must have sounded something like a little kid begging to go to the park: “Can I go? Huh? Please! Can I go? Please! Please! Pleeeeeeeese!!!!” Finally God answered: “Why do you think I showed it to you?” So I booked tickets to the conference, the eclipse bus, the airlines, and a room. Then I did a little joy dance around the living room.
Because I had booked rather late, there were no more rooms available at the nice hotel where the conference would be. So I got a room at the Budget Inn instead. It was not a nice room, but I’m a missionary. I’m used to roughing it. Besides, it turned out to be strategic because just before my trip to the US at the end of July I was hospitalized with pneumonia. By the time of the conference a month later, I was completely healed and needing to rebuild my strength and stamina. The half-mile twice daily walk to and from the conference helped me do exactly that.
The conference was great, I heard some new information, and I made lots of friends there. And I really enjoyed Boise, which has none of Milan’s humidity. And even though I was staying in a ratty place, I never felt unsafe.
The day of the eclipse I arrived at the conference hotel half an hour early. They had advised getting onto the road early because there was likely to be traffic. It turned out that there was very little traffic going out to Smith’s Ferry. But this was not the edge of the mountains. It was a big flat area surrounded by mountains in the distance. Still, it was a beautiful day with a clear sky. There were lots of other busloads of people and people who had come in campers. There was a definite tailgate party feeling. There were two teenaged boys with homemade wooden swords. The put on a play fight for me, and their mother confided: “This is how autistic males celebrate the eclipse—with wooden swords!” I hadn’t realized that they were autistic, but maybe that’s because I’ve always made friends with the people who were a little different. Anyway, I thought it was a nice way to have fun.
Don’t worry, the swords are wooden.
As the sun rose, the temperature also rose. When the sun was almost straight overhead, it began. I put on the eclipse glasses, but couldn’t even tell where the moon was yet. A friend took my picture as I gazed up at the sun. I took off the glasses and went to see what others were doing. I saw a couple, seated by their camper. They had made paper plate covers for their eclipse glasses—very clever! I had worn a baseball hat and long sleeves to protect me from the sun’s rays.
My friend pointed the phone at me while I was focused on the sun and the moon in their cosmic dance.
By another camper I saw a computer that had been hooked up to a video camera. I asked permission to take a picture of their setup. Their camera had a solar filter, so now it was obvious the bite that the moon had taken out of the disk of the sun. In fact it’s called Pac-Man. My phone couldn’t capture Pac-Man, but I saw a man who had borrowed a solar filter. It wasn’t attached to his camera, being about 3 times too big. He was holding the filter with one hand and taking pictures through it with the other. I asked if I could try taking a picture through the filter. I tried. The first just looks like a distorted mirror showing me, my phone, and him behind me. Then I held my phone flush with the filter and tried again. But it also didn’t show Pac-Man, either.
The solar filter was just a funny mirror as far as my phone could tell.
And even held flush to the filter, I couldn’t capture Pac-Man.
So when the lights went out (the sun’s light that is!), I tried again to take a picture with my camera, and it worked. I also looked around, and saw that there really was a 360 degree twilight. The temperature went down fast and the crickets started to sing. I began to pray for my country, hoping that others were also taking this opportunity to pray for God’s mercy on America. After all, this was why God had me come here. Not just to see a total solar eclipse, but to pray for our country during this cosmic harbinger of judgment. This was a Secret Weapon assignment.
Is God judging America? It rather looks that way with the worst hurricane ever to hit the US following immediately after the eclipse. But I believe that Harvey is another warning sign for people who are too scientific and sophisticated to read signs in the sun, moon, and stars. When judgment comes it will be harsh and swift and there will be nobody to come to the rescue. So why pray if God has already made up His mind? Because there is still a chance that people will repent and humble themselves before God. And God has promised to relent and to heal our land if we humble ourselves and repent.
Then if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land, (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Our duty as the ambassadors of Jesus is to pray for our country and to tell people of their need for a Savior and the Good News of God’s free gift of salvation. Sin has made our country sick, but many aren’t even aware of the sickness.
Totality as caught by my phone.
Then as the sun burst through on the other side a cheer went up throughout the crowd. This effect is called the wedding ring. When I learned that, I got holy goosebumps, thinking how our Heavenly Bridegroom is as anxious for our wedding as we are. He even put the wedding ring in the sky!
The wedding ring!
The next day I returned to North Carolina, where I had spent a month working on my book. I finished up the book and flew back to Milan the following day. I had booked 2 separate flights: Milan to Atlanta—Atlanta to Milan and Atlanta to Asheville—Asheville to Atlanta. I did it that way so that I could do the Atlanta to Asheville leg using Skymiles. I was going to have an 8 hour layover in Atlanta. So when they asked for volunteers to give up their seat for a $500 voucher, I volunteered (after finding out that there was another flight in 3 hours). The gate agent took my ticket and I went to the bistro next to our gate to get some lunch. Just as I was finishing up the gate agent came rushing in and said that I would be on this flight after all. I shouted: “Check please!” and paid. The gate agent gave me a different seat assignment. This seat was next to a pastor who had been to a conference at Lake Junaluska. I saw his conference materials, and showed him the Christian book that I was reading. I said, “It looks like we’ve got something in common. He wanted to know all about my missionary work, and going to the prophecy conference. When I got to the part of the story where God spoke to me he said, “And how does God speak to you?”
So I explained about quieting yourself in prayer to listen for His voice. He was fascinated. Being a Lutheran, he hasn’t been encouraged to listen for God’s voice. But he was very encouraged to hear that it’s not complicated and it’s not freaky. He was most encouraged to learn that I hadn’t had that seat to begin with. I showed him my original seat assignment and the new seat assignment. His eyes popped and the smile spread across his face as he understood that this had been a true divine appointment. God had sent His Secret Weapon Encourager to encourage this dear servant who felt like he was stuck in a rut.
My original and new seat assignments–this was a divine appointment!
Whether the assignment is as big as praying for your country during an eclipse or encouraging your seatmate on an hour long flight, the key to being God’s Secret Weapon is just this: obedience. Will my prayers turn the tide for our country? I sincerely and deeply hope so. Will my encouragement turn the tide for Pastor Brian? Again, I sincerely and deeply hope so. God is good!
 See Part 10.