By Darlene Hight
Every country has a celebration that signifies patriotism. In the United States that holiday is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. I am a huge fan of Fourth of July fireworks. This fondness for fireworks is part of my fabric. It stems from pleasant memories of childhood.
My dad was a proud United States citizen. If we attended an event where the National Anthem was played, my brothers, sisters and I had better be on our feet with hand over heart demonstrating respect. We grew up in a patriotic home and celebrated Fourth of July in proper form. The holiday started with a trip downtown to watch the Fourth of July parade. We continued the celebration with a traditional barbeque shared by family and friends. The day ended with the family piling into the car and driving to a predetermined 'perfect location' for fireworks.
As an adult, I find it hard to believe that some people do not celebrate the Fourth of July with the same enthusiasm as I do. Many years, my husband chose sleep over watching fireworks. For the first few years of our marriage this was a friction point. Eventually, I decided it was easier to leave "the party pooper" at home. My children, all or some, attended fireworks with me, but some years I went alone. I am a diehard!
For me watching fireworks is a deeply significant experience. As I stand under a darkened smoky sky with flashes of brilliance dancing before my eyes, I am reminded of my privileged position. Not just as a United States citizen with all the freedom due one, but as a Christian and an even greater freedom. Being a free citizen mirrors the freedom that I have in Christ. Whether I am a U.S. citizen or a citizen of another free country, it is a high calling and should never be treated lightly. Watching fireworks is a yearly reminder of that privilege and much more than tradition. As I look skyward, I'm also reminded of my station. I am not Creator. I am created. It's important to remember that in a world where so often things get out of order. My freedom in Christ is free to me but my Savior paid a very high price. Likewise, the freedom that I enjoy is a gift bought by hard sacrifices and courage.
So I celebrate.
One year on the Fourth of July, I broke with tradition. My family spent the day working around the house instead of the normal festivities. Many projects desperately need our attention and we decided to forego the barbecues in order to knock out some of those necessary tasks. I had been battling a summer cold for several days prior. A better plan would have been to get some much-needed rest but that is not what I did. After putting in a long busy day of work, I was exhausted. When nighttime rolled around, even though, I desperately wanted to go watch fireworks, I didn't have the energy. I resigned myself to the fact that I would be missing them.
Before putting my weary disappointed self to bed, I made a cup of tea and stepped outside on the porch to drink it. There was a field directly across from my home. I often watched the orioles feed there. It is likely home to many a rodent, snake, insect and other nighttime creature. On this night it was aglow with fireflies. The field glittered with a God designed fireworks extravaganza, a heavenly display. As I sat watching the fireflies dance and flash a beautiful Fourth of July pageant for this tired audience of one, I felt both insignificant in the presence of such beauty and humbled by the lavish gift. I had never seen that many fireflies at one time and I haven't since. The conductor of the universe had orchestrated a firefly fourth, maybe in my honor or maybe just because that is what He does.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)
Darlene is a writer who travels with her husband, Mark across rural United States as he builds power plants.
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