Fireworks of a different kind
It’s hotter than a firecracker on the 4th of July here in Chattanooga. We hit 100 yesterday and I think the humidity was right up there too. It’s no wonder a big old thunder boomer rolled in around 9 PM. As I sat there listening, my mind traveled back to the year my husband Tom and I celebrated Independence Day down in the Florida Keys with some dear friends.
It was around 8 PM when they loaded us up in their boat, headed into the Atlantic Ocean and over to the shoreline where the fireworks were set to begin at 9 PM. Of course, there were 100’s of other boats already there and lined up for the show but our friends found the perfect spot and we anchored. It was dusk so the appearance of an extremely black could out in the ocean caught our attention. As we sat talking and waiting, we turned often to see which would come first - the fireworks or the rain!
At the edge of a black, black sky you could see the outline of billowing clouds. Then started the intense lightning and the sky behind the clouds would be almost white. Some streaks of lightning were short and went across the sky. Others were long and went right down into the Atlantic Ocean. It was beautiful.
At 9 PM, the fireworks began exploding up on the shore, but I could not keep my eyes off of what God was doing behind me further out in the Atlantic. HIS display was incredible! As each new firework display would go off behind me, it was as if God was showing an even greater display of His wonder out in the ocean. God, through His Word, has provided so many wonderful ‘visuals’ of His power and the might. But on this night, His Word was coming to life in a grand way! Y’all, it was as if God was saying to “STAND and consider the wonders of God.” It was as if God asked – “Can you send forth lightning that they may go and do they say to you…Here we are?” (Job 37:14; 38:35).
I remembered reading those words and being awestruck with the wonder of God. But there in the Atlantic Ocean, I saw and my soul responded… “Oh no Lord, only you can do that! You are mighty and awesome.” I knew the exploding fireworks behind me were a beautiful display by the responses of those watching, but I could not take my eyes off of God’s display.
I remembered other things God said and recorded in His word and I wanted to shout them…I wanted to shout - LOOK! “Did you know God covers His hands with lightning and commands it to strike the mark?” LISTEN! “God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend!” (Job 36:32; 37:5).
With each streak of lightning, I saw the face of Jesus. Oh, not literally, but through remembering God’s recorded Word which has described Jesus to me in SO many ways. “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” (Daniel 10:5-6)
This God of wonder sent His Son Jesus to die for me so that I could enjoy HIM forever. “Since His children are flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in our humanity so that by His (Jesus) death He might destroy him who holds the power of death (that is the devil).” (Hebrews 2:14).
Eyes filled with tears, I stared in wonder at God as He displayed His wonder, might and power and I celebrated the most amazing event of all. I am a sinner, saved by grace. Thank you, God! I could picture Jesus who is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3) and felt the love of God in a powerful way. His display touched my heart with the TRUTH of just how much He loves me. So much so He would share in my humanity. I was again reminded of how His Word has described for me that He came for me and do what I could not do for myself and what no other could do but HIM. He died for me and He’s in heaven right now preparing a place for me and will return for me. It’s not just for me I know. God’s display was for everyone and so is His grace. He sent Jesus to taste death for everyone!
So, on that Independence Day, I celebrated my freedom in Christ right there in the Atlantic Ocean off the shore of Florida, but not my independence. For I am ever more and more dependent upon HIM with every breath that I take. Because God sent Jesus to die in my place, I am free to be all God created me to be through the power of His Holy Spirit of promise, the pledge of my inheritance.
In the midst of a dark, dark world, may we be people who display God’s wonder captivating our families communities for Christ just like God’s display of wonder captivated me on July 4, 2003.
The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols--worship him, all you gods! Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, O LORD. For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones -and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. (Psalm 97)