Seems like every year that we watch the fireworks, we encounter a false grand finale. We say, “Oooh. Wow. This must be the grand finale!” And then there’s a brief pause. We clap and cheer. And then… Sha-bam!!! The true grand finale totally surprises us and makes our eyes wide with awe.
There must be a lot of psychology that goes into the timing and intention of a firework display. They start off slow and steady, warming you up to it. You’re just excited because it’s starting so anything is a big Wow! And then after you get a little used to it, they throw in a few unique ones. Maybe a heart shape or a multi-colored spray or an American flag or a star. The onlookers discuss which ones are their favorites and how HUGE that one was! Then a small pause… Whaaabooom, bang, crackle, whop! The grand finale. We begin to clap and cheer… only to discover that wasn’t actually the finale. Wow! THIS IS the finale!!! It’s an emotional roller-coaster! Especially if you have anyone with you ages two to four. : )
I grew up in dry, arid places where you drive out to the fireworks shows. At our homes, the only legal fireworks were sparklers, pop-rocks and those weird worm things. But fireworks in our neighborhood here is like a war zone. The first summer we moved here, 2 weeks before the 4th of July, there was a thick haze of firework smoke. Our eyes burned. Our throats burned. You can imagine my prayers against toxic chemicals in July! : )
One of our neighbors went all out. Literally. One of his big ka-booms went haywire and shot into their whole stash, lighting off every single one of them. ALL. OUT. They shot out in to the crowd on their driveway and straight at the side of our homes, even hit the window my husband and I were peering out of. Yikes!
Welcome to the neighborhood! : )
The entire week before the 4th, people host their own shows. Saturday night, it went on from about 6pm until 11:30pm or so. I woke up around 4:30am that morning to get to work and was in bed, exhausted at 9pm. But I couldn’t help imagining a John Wayne scene when I heard all the gunpowder going off for hours and hours. I finally decided, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” So I went outside.
I often wonder why we even celebrate the 4th with fireworks. To the pessimist in me, the one I try to duct tape shut, it seems like everyone just uses their independence to blow money on their own glory and shows. Independence Day. Freedom. The rocket’s red glare? Bombs bursting in air? Do we even really use the holiday to remember what that really all meant? The sacrifices that were really made?
On a weathered white rocker, I sat alone, praying for the mating fireflies at the fence line. Above the fence and tree-line was a grand display of fireworks. I mean HUGE! And just right there in front of me. The only time I felt startled was when the neighbors just a few houses behind me lit up a few big ones that I didn’t see coming! They sent a big rocket’s red glare upon my windows next to me. But as I sat there, with my household sleeping and wishing I were asleep too, my mind wandered to the fireworks.
It was as if each explosion of light was telling the story of glory to glory in the Bible. As if each display of light was an illustration of lives of God’s people who sparked His light into the world.
Whirly shoo! (Ruth)
Crackle Pop! (Ezekiel)
And then I thought about Jesus.
He gets more than one boom-bang in the sky. His parting did after all crack the earth, tear the veil, and turn the moon to blood. His rising did after all open up heaven in light. Now Jesus is the Beginning and the End, so don’t lose me here with where I’m trying to take you. In Genesis, He was there to speak light in to creation. In Revelation, it says He will be our light with no need of the sun. Knowing that, try for a moment to just wonder with me…
What if His life, death and resurrection is kind of like that finale before the grand finale?
What if Jesus really meant it when He said, “You will do even greater things than this!”?
(“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!“ John 14:12)
What if, in His grand humility, He lets us be part of His grand finale? What if He invites His brothers and sisters to share in His bright light and great glory?!?
What if that means you and me get to be a Wham! Bam! Crackle Pop! in the sky too!?
After all, The Bright Morning Star, the Light of the World, also calls you lights in the darkness:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
What if, before His coming in glory, He actually keeps His promise, “In the last days, I pour out my Spirit on all people”?
“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
(Read all about this inspiring moment here in Acts 2!)
This passage is what Peter quoted from Joel’s prophecy, right after Jesus was brought up to heaven. Peter was telling the people: Didn’t you see the signs? Don’t you remember this was prophesied long ago and has now come to pass? Don’t you realized these are the last days? They were cut to the heart. And 3,000 that day called on the name of the Lord and were saved.
Jesus says He is away now, to be with the Father, so that He can send His Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be with you now.
If He says, “Ask me for anything in my name and I will do it,” then I want to pray big and bold for revival and for salvation! Don’t you? I pray for so many specific things, but wonder why I neglect some of the most important things I could be praying for…like for salvation and revival and an outpouring. Jesus says He will answer those prayers, “so that the Son can bring glory to the Father!” (John 14:12) Isn’t that the desire of our hearts too?
Lord, teach us to pray big and bold. Show us how to be lights in the darkness. Help us love and serve those around us with lots of grace. Thank you for letting us be a part of your great story. We wait for the day when you crack the sky again and we get to see the truest, most beautiful grand finale of all… the Great and Glorious Day. We hear You proclaim, “Yes, I am coming soon” (Revelations 22:20). And we respond by joining in the prayers of the saints, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Funny. As I conclude this post, I remember that song, “Baby, You’re a Firework!” Looks like I’m not the only person to ever have a thought like this. : )
So… there you go.
Peace out. And Happy Freedom Day!!!