On this Independence Day, I went into the day with the intention of trying to spot spiritual parallels from all of the various festivities and traditions. These are just four of them (a quite appropriate number).
1. Clowns For Christ
At the Molalla Parade, one of the groups was "Clowns for Christ." They were riding unicycles and strange bicycles and were all dressed up like clowns. Seeing them made me think about how we are called to be "fools for the sake of Christ." In other words, we may look silly, even stupid, to those who don't believe as we do. But we do it because we know that in the end, we're the ones who are right and have the truth. It doesn't matter what we look like to others as look as we are being faithful to our Savior. Lesson learned: Better to be a clown for Christ than a genius for nothing.
2. Apathy and Parade Candy
As we sat next to the parade with the Nipping family, we kept telling the younger kids to jump up and yell if they wanted candy. I showed them what I meant a few times and got myself a rather nice supply of quality candies. It struck me that this is a lot like our spiritual walk and eternal reward. If we don't make the effort to stand up and shout (vocally or in deed) the gospel, we won't receive the rewards God wants to give us. God provides opportunities, but He expects us to take action on them. The people sitting next to us weren't yelling, screaming, or jumping for the most part. And by the end of the parade, their pockets weren't nearly as full as ours. (Well, mine were empty... but not because I didn't catch the candy...) Lesson learned: Reward comes to those who step up, speak out, and earn it.
3. Only One Corn Hole
At our grandparent's, our favorite game is "Corn Hole Toss," which is simply trying to make points by throwing as many bean bags as you can into the hole in a board. While playing today, I realized that this game demonstrates the principle that so many in our culture disagree with: that there is only one way. The idea that there is a truth, a right or wrong, one way to Heaven, or one true religion are all considered bigoted and intolerant in this society. But something as simple as the way we play games shows that deep down we know that with certain (dare I say "most") things, there is only one way. In Corn Hole, the hole. In football, the goalposts. In soccer, the goal. In basketball, the hoop. Either you're in, or you're not. Lesson learned: We all know that to win the prize, you have to get in the goal.
I love fireworks. The light that seems to drip from the sky, or sigh like a weeping willow tree, or shout for joy. We use them to celebrate things like our country's declaring independence because of the power, beauty, and freedom they represent. I couldn't help but think of the real Independence Day, the day in which we were freed from the bonds of sin. That day is different for each of us; the day we accepted Jesus and asked Him to wash us clean and free us. And He did. And does. And will. What a joy! When considering everything we've been freed from in Christ, the fireworks are just a small reflection of the celebrations that are deserved. They are not nearly sufficient. Each of our lives need to be a "firework." We are each to be a light, even for a short amount of time, to proclaim to everyone of the joy we've found. We'll be gone in the time it takes for the light to fade in the sky. Lesson learned: let your joy explode from you so others will see the power and beauty of our Savior.