Happy Belated Independence Day! I hope you have enjoyed your holiday with your family, celebrating the gift of freedom that we have as Americans and remembering the gift of freedom that we have in Christ.
As my second year officially begins, I am still getting used to the way that the 4th of July works around here. A part of that is new knowledge- the bridges close on the evening of the 4th so the fireworks can be set off! I had no idea. However, the explanation made sense to me: it would be dangerous with the smoke and the fireworks right next to the bridge while folks drive. This fact reminded me of one fourth of July in particular in my family.
My childhood home is in a subdivision right off of a lake (Lake Dora), and across the lake is downtown, where all of the 4th of July festivities were always held. When we were little, my mom would pile us into our little green wagon and wheel us down to our subdivision’s dock, and we would watch the fireworks with our neighbors and friends. It was a fun family tradition, right next to the annual 4th of July parade in downtown Mount Dora. However, a few years of my childhood were marked by massive drought. There were no fireworks on the lake because we were terrified of starting a wildfire (some of you may remember these years in central Florida).
Then, the drought lifted, and the 4th of July came around again. We were so excited to reinitiate our family tradition. We had no idea we were in for a surprise! All of the fireworks from the years before had been saved. Then, we watched the most impressive and fabulous fireworks show I have ever seen. The way it was talked about in the months and years after, you would’ve thought we rivaled New York City that night!
A major part of the legend is what happened after the show: the incredible cloud of smoke from the fireworks blew across the lake and caused low visibility for us living on the other side! It wasn’t extreme, but just enough for us to remember again that something impressive had happened. When you light a bunch of things on fire, you will get smoke!
This Sunday in worship we’ll talk about low visibility in other areas of our lives. Sometimes, life can feel dark and murky, filled with low-visibility and confusion. Sometimes, in the midst of this, there are no impressive fireworks, just a sense that we cannot hear God’s call. As we talk about Gideon on Sunday, we’ll remember that he had low visibility too. Gideon asked God for signs over and over that God was with him. God answered- and showed the miraculous help that he could give Gideon, even in the midst of crippling doubt.
Whether your spirituality feels like a giant firework show or driving through foggy smoke, God is with you. Whether we feel God or not, God loves you and is present. As we recalculate through life, God will continue to guide us. Let’s think together this Sunday about how we can listen for that still, small voice.
One final thing! As we prepare to listen for God for ourselves, be sure to be praying for our children and their leaders as they learn more about the love God has for them at VBS, beginning 7/8. Our church does so much work in the lives of students and children to help teach them about this encompassing love, and how to hear God’s voice. I’m excited to see all that comes from our wonderful VBS program!
I’ll see you then!