Tag Archives: independence day

The Grand Finale

5 Jul

Every year we gather under a sweaty darkening sky. The July heat surrounds us, pressing down on us, reminding us why air conditioning  was invented. We round up little ones, hold hands with lovers, hold our breaths and wait for the show to begin.

Boom! Crash! Sounds like thunder, bright as lightening, but the sky is void of clouds and the earth is dry despite the humidity, skin moist with spilled sno-cone and sweat. We “Oooooh,” and “Awwww,” still holding on to the feelings of being in rapture after all those years, still remembering what is good in life: family, friends, freedom.

We fill with hope every time a new colorful explosion cascades light across the night.

Across the nation, people stop and stare, looking up, for maybe the first time in months. Despite the barking dogs and crying babies, there is a peace in the booms and crashes that could be mistaken for gunfire, but on this day are something safe, something meaningful, something brilliant.

We enjoy the moment, the colors, the flashes, but really, we wait in anticipation for…

The grand finale.

Every child whispers in excitement to his parent, “Is this it?”

We all want it to come, because we want to experience the most spectacular part of the evening, even though we know it is the prerequisite to the end.

Inherently we know beyond the cynicism spoken that all good things come to an end, the deeper truth that all  good things come at the end.

The dessert. The movie or book where you end with a tear in your eye and an enormous sense of satisfaction.

We think we want the end of things to go smoothly, to be steady, to be a nice and easy ending with resolve,

Yet maybe what we really want is a grand finale.

Maybe what we all hope for, underneath our addiction to comfort,  to slowly backing down and easing our way out of this season, or this life,

is to go out with a bang.

We fear growing old, being dependent, being immobile. We are so conditioned to be safe and secure, to avoid risk, to have a great retirement plan where our biggest goal is to stay out of a nursing home.

We are told it is inevitable this life-sucking something that happens as we grow up: to lose passion, to lose fire. We think we want to sit down and blend in. We can hardly hold on to our wonder and awe that once held our gaze, captivated to the sky every Independence day.

But we don’t have to lose it.

We can hold onto the spark.

We can see each day as an extraordinary adventure.

We can hold fast to the idea that the older we get, the more exciting life becomes. The more you mature, the more less you care about what people think. The more you see what matters. The more you are able to follow your passion.

There is no reason to fear death, if anything, fear fading away and fizzling out. Whether it be the death of a relationship, a dream, a idea or belief we once held fast too, or the ultimate death when we breath our last breathe and are taken into the light, make it a grand finale.

Does it have to start with a broken heart
Broken dreams and bleeding parts
We were young and the world was clear
But young ambition disappears
I swore it would never come to this
The average, the obvious

I’m still discontented down here
I’m still discontented

If we’ve only got one try
If we’ve only got one life
If time was never on our side
Then before I die
I want to burn out bright

Switchfoot- Burn Out Bright

Live Free or Die

1 Jul

This quote sits on the background of my desktop. The more I read it, the more it feels like my own holy mantra. I love the idea of my existence being a rebellion in an un-free world. Not rebellion in a sense of fighting against what is good and true, actually the very opposite.

When I was a kid, I was sort of paranoid. I used to lie awake at night, imagining enemies. They normally weren’t monsters or goblins, these enemies were real people. Burglars, kidnappers, rapist. I was afraid of people. I was also afraid of God, in a sense. I knew He “loved” me because that is what I was told. But, I never thought I was good enough for that love.

I looked in the mirror and found myself achingly different from the girl I wished I was. I remember as young as six making a mental list of the (major) things that would have to change in my life for me to be “normal.” I thought that was all I wanted. Really, I wanted to be free. Free from the nightmares. Free from the unspoken thing that paralyzed my mouth shut when it came to communicating with anyone older then me besides my immediate family. I didn’t know why I was afraid, I just was. I was in bondage to silence.

When I began to get free from my past, it was like I transitioned straight into another sort of bondage- the religious kind. I thought it was my job to decide whether I was a holy person or not, depending on how much time I spent on my knees, what movies or music I would or would not subject myself too. In my harsh judgment of myself, I couldn’t help but judge other people. I couldn’t see their motives, know their full story, or read their heart intent, but I stuck with the idea that “You will know them by their fruit.” I entered into a new kind of paranoia. Instead of writing a list of the things that needed to change in order for me to be normal, I wrote a mental list of things that needed to happen in order for me to be a “Jesus-freak. World-Changer. Not-of-this-world.” I was quick to point out those “hypocrites” who talked about celebrity gossip instead of reaching Muslims for Christ, the ones who claimed to love God and yet spend more money on worldly things like their purebred puppy and nice furniture, while there were starving children dying of AIDS  and worldly teenagers having sex who were going to burn in hell.

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Gal. 1:4 NLT)

As Jesus began to gently lead me into the realm of his grace, at times I have felt my former self back-lashing.

“Do you realize how heretical the things your saying sound right now?”

“People are going to get offended…”

“Are you SURE, you are not just trying to rebel?”

As time goes on, condemnation has gone from being my master to becoming obsolete. It’s scary, almost, because I was so used to it.  I was comfortable seeing morality so stark black and white, I was comfortable being one of the few select, being able to judge the world instead of the condition of my own heart. I was safe in my cage.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Gal 5:1 MSG)

As we are taught through our history, freedom cost something. It is risky, it is rebellious.

But the cost for our freedom was paid for, fully. We get to grab it, walk in it, make it our reality.

We don’t need to live with one foot in the cage and one out of it. We don’t celebrate Independence Day because you are sort of free. Yes, people may be in fear that our nation is losing it’s freedom, but the state of our physical freedom simply cannot touch the freedom that is on the inside of us.

Fear, condemnation, guilt, those things are no longer your masters. If you walk with Jesus, His Spirit is in you, that means FREEDOM.

(Those that say in their hearts “Yes, but that means people think they can do whatever they want, they will use their freedom as an excuse to be selfish and SIN,” don’t really get it anyway. That is not the point.)
Your response to an unfree world doesn’t need to be anger, endless political discussions, great planned-out “battle plans.” It doesn’t have to  mean working in ministry until you are half dead, constant suffering and sorrow for a cause, or playing the martyr.  Sometimes it simply means to live free.

So make every day Independence day.

Enjoy life. Take a risk. Love someone who will never love you back. Make friends with those the church rejects. Go on an adventure. Have a beer, light some fireworks, jump in a lake, laugh.

Live Free.

(I may be biased, but New Hampshire has the best state slogan EVER.)

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