Better Than Fireworks

Fireworks
One Christmas Eve, we were at my mother-in-law’s in north Alabama. It was a beautiful setting with acres of land, trees, and Indian Camp Creek flowing through the middle of her land. It was in that setting that my brother-in-law and I lit the fireworks!

 

It was twenty degrees and all of the kids were outside to watch the rockets and hear the explosions.  Over and over the sky was showered with multi-colored sparks.  We placed each rocket in a launcher on the ground, lit the long fuse, and then ran!  Each launch was followed by a tremendous bang as it would blast off and then rise hundreds of feet into the air.

 

We had a great time!  Uhhh—I mean the kids had a great time.  I do remember at one point looking around and realizing that all of the kids had gotten cold and were now inside the house. (You don’t think that we quit at that point do you?)

 

Many of us want a relationship with God that is something like these fireworks.  Quick.  Powerful.  Dramatic.   You light the fuse and seconds later watch it happen!

 

For me, walking with God has never been like that.  Most of the time, my own growth and maturity has been slow.  Sort of like I am plodding along with God. 

 

At times I wish for more fireworks.  Oh there have been a few dramatic moments.  But that has not been the norm.  Most of the time, our walk with God is like any other relationship.  This relationship takes time to grow.

 

A friend of mine made the statement a number of years ago that stuck with me.  We both had just listened to a person talk about all of his activities for that year. I remember my friend remarked, "I have known him a long time and my impression is that if he says it enough, he begins to believe that it is true." Hmmmm.

 

Pascal warned, "Men often take their imagination for their heart, and often believe they are converted as soon as they start thinking of becoming converted."

 

One does not mature spiritually by talking about God.  Knowing God is a day-in, day-out experience. Like marriage, it calls for me to take intentional steps in his direction.

 

This week, as you schedule your time and work with your planner, make an appointment with God each day.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “Better Than Fireworks

  1. Jim,

    Encouraging thoughts as always! For a different twist on the same thing you’re saying, perhaps rather than scheduling an appointment with God we could just cultivate the awareness that He’s in all our appointments, He’s making His home in us (Jn 14), allowing Him to shape all the hours of all the days of our lives. I don’t need Him like I need an hour with the dentist. As you point out, the relationship is more like what we enjoy with our spouse. Rather than giving him a moment on today’s PDA, maybe we could allow him to shape the day, transcend the schedule, and give definition to all the other appointments. Making an appointment with God is sort of like taking our place at the center of the universe, and controlling the direction of God’s orbit. He’s the center. I can’t escape the force of His pull. He holds the Palm Pilot in the grip of His big hand.

  2. These are penetrating thoughts, Jim. They remind me of an experience: I was once in the early stages of discipling a 40-something man. As the weeks rolled by he seemed to be questioning himself more-and-more. He specifically wondered if his desire to follow Jesus was “real”. When I asked if he had a sense of what was behind these questions, he said that he felt like his desire would be validated by “something big happening.” I asked what he meant and he said that there were no fireworks. Well, we talked this through and he came to understand that following Jesus involved something more than a flash-in-the-pan sort of event but a life-long commitment to yield our lives to his will. When he was eventually baptized he looked at me and said, “Now that’s fireworks!” Few people understood the depth of meaning behind those words, but I’m sure the Lord did. Thankfully, this disciple continues to walk out his faith each day. Some days he even sees fireworks.

  3. I think Ben O is right that we need an awareness of God in all of the “events” of our lives.

    But I also think for a good relationship we need to culitvate specific times where we slow down, perhaps even simply stop, and let the river of the Spirit and the rythym of grace wash through our being.

    Jim your story reminds me of Elijah on Mt Carmel. Perhaps were are to be more like the imperceptible growth of the tree in Ps 1.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine
    Stoned-Campbell Disciple

  4. I feel like I am growing into a greater comfort of being with God. I have always thought about our life as worship and continual conversation with Him through the day. But, I am loving the concept of everything I do being done as “for God.” Just being with him throughout the day.
    Thanks for the reminder of what it takes and for calling us to “up our game.”

  5. Bobby,

    I’m with you and Jim. I’m struggling to find a metaphor that works a bit better for me. My mind is drawn back to Jesus as bread and water of life. We need the appointment, the appointed communion of word and prayer and silence with Him, less like we need an oil change, and more like we need a meal of bread and water. To get blessing, grace, the breath of God blowing through our souls, we have to take Him in. I’m convinced that lectio divina, or something like it (I practice a less structured version of the ancient discipline), will allow us to take in His word, and give us a supply of the Spirit (as per Ga. 3.5–supplied Spirit by hearing with faith). We go to lunch, and then we live off its energy until we go to dinner, and live off its energy until . . .. To pull from Jim’s firework analogy, when we enter into God’s life, it’s all firework display. When he called the heavenly fireworks into existance, he hung them in the wide expanse, allowing them to blaze constantly by the word of His power (He. 1). The best we can do is shoot something into the air that burns for a second and then it fades. We don’t have divine energy in making bottle rockets. But in God’s life, He fuels us and feeds us so that there’s never a non-expolsive moment in His grace.

  6. John Ortberg has a good sermon titled, “An Ordinary Day with Jesus,” that hits on what you’ve written. As always, a good reminder. However, I must confess your blog jogged a ton of fireworks memories from yesteryear. They just aren’t as explosive as they used to be … and I think that’s a bad thing for us older guys and a good thing for our kids!

  7. Thanks Ben–I hear what you are saying. I do think there may be many like me who need to be intentional about reading Scripture, journaling, and even prayer. For that to happen in my life, I need to schedule a time–otherwise, it will often just not happen.

  8. Bill– I really like your post. Unfortunately, that is often the same kind of thinking that many people bring to marriage and other relationships as well. For it to be “real” there must be fireworks.

    Life is much closer to what you described. “Sometimes” there are fireworks…Most of the time, a life of daily fidelity to Jesus.

  9. Arlene,
    I like the way you expressed daily life in the presence of God. (In fact, I read it twice) There is a beauty of being in his presence and living in the power of the Spirit. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Greg,
    Thanks for the note re John Ortberg. I have been blessed by his writing.

    You are so right regarding those fireworks. As I remember, those fireworks were high powered!

  11. Excellent point and points, Jim! I couldn’t agree with you more on this. Especially about the day to day, slow growth you’re talking about, as opposed to the spectacular firework kind of thing. And your application in the end is also so helpful and important. Unfortunately we’ve all seen people (if we’ve been looking long enough) who make a dramatic profession of faith, but by and by are no longer there.

    Thanks again!