Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July

Well, here we are on the Fourth of July! Enjoying family, food, flags, fireworks and fun! How's that for alliteration? Yes, we have our traditions for this fantastic American holiday, and one of them is blowing things up. While a lot Americans choose to forgo the front yard gathering and instead view a plethora of state of the art explosions at a city park, we plop ourselves down at a relatives house who revels in being a bigger, badder blaster of booming displays. Not only do we get a front row seat at this blast session, we get to join in the fuse fun! Light and run, scream and oooooooh, grab another and repeat.

Really, it's fun to watch.... which is what I do because the loud noise makes me wanna pee my pants! My husband is the one that enjoys this ritual, and boy is it fun to see him smile and giggle at the booming twinkles! I don't know if there is anything else that makes him stop and stare like that.... except me of course! No, I sit inside with the kids, looking out the second story window saying things like "Ooooh, that's my favorite.... I like the sparkles.... kids, are we having fun yet!?!"

While I'm not one for the explosive nature of this holiday, I still enjoy going to the same house year in and year out.... we even drove half way across the country for a July holiday! As we are preparing to join our family for todays festivities, I have been pondering the thought of explosions. Not just being a spectator to celebratory displays, but being the recipient of an off the cuff display of human malice. How many of us have been spectators like me (hiding behind a protective separation) when we're around those kind of explosions?

Somehow it seems, with me at least, that the "fireworks" burn brighter and the boom is louder with those we love. Something is triggered, the fuse is set, and the next moment we're left screaming and ooooohing. But this screaming and ooooohing is more of an "oh crap, what do I do now!?!" or "oh my, that's not pretty!" How many of us sit and stare in gasping wonder at someone that blows things out of proportion, or someone who holds everything inside until the fateful day of outburst. How many of us think: "What are they thinking?" "Lord help them, they need Jesus!" "Get me out of here!"

Well, I'll tell you what, not only have I been one to observe blasts such as these, but I have been known to have a couple myself.... oh, the irony hurts! Oh, mama, let me tell ya! I'm so good at looking at things through a microscope I should have been a scientist! There must be something in my brain that says "That's just the start...you should really look at that one up close...it's a doozey!" The blood boils, the eyes squint, the shakes set in, and then "I'm gonna hurt someone!" Mmm-hmm. There it is in black and white: my sin.

Now granted someone might look at my explosions and say "Well you handled that! Tell 'em like it is!" We all have the desire to be justified, to know that what we have to say is valid, and that someone really hears us. The problem with that is that it's self seeking. I explode because I feel like someone stepped on my toes or tried to hurt me (or didn't try, but did anyways). See, that's all about ME....

Here's the flip side: But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8) Scream and ooooooh. Gasp in wonder at that.... and revel in truth. While I face the consequences of my explosions, cleaning up the messes I make with those I love, I hold dearly to the truth that His mercy is new every morning, and by His strength I can put to practice this next statement Paul makes to the Colossians: So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

Life is not a holiday, although we do enjoy the fun, food, family, and friends.... life is lived in the moments we take to stop and look... stop and listen... stop and learn. Look at how others are affected by you, listen to those who cry out to you, learn from those who go before you. That is what makes the moments in our lives memorable. Not the holidays, not the bigger, badder blasts, not the good food, and not the pretty pictures we put in scrapbooks.

In no way do I want anyone who reads this blog to think that I have it all figured out! Far be it for me to open my big mouth in an attempt at imparting wisdom! What I do know is the truth that God has provided in scripture, as well as being able to write stuff down that makes people laugh.... and think. I also know that writing is a way of sharing my heart with those I normally couldn't.... letting go of my fear of rejection (Amen!).... and letting the Lord do His work through my willingness to write. I pray that He works in your life despite what I say!!

So, during this holiday, as you reflect on being a free American, I challenge you to reflect on being free from an explosive nature. Do people have to duck and cover when you're around, or do you show compassion, humility, and patience? Can others tell you something that they know is hard to hear, or do they walk on egg shells for fear of a blast of anger? What ever position you find yourself in, His grace is sufficient, His mercy is new every morning, and here, finally, is the final thought: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

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