Fireworks, Faith, and Fun

We have tons of great traditions in the Johnson home.  Some of my favorite ones are: getting our Christmas tree on the night of Thanksgiving, getting up every Saturday morning in the fall and putting on the Orange and White, going to Seaworld every summer, and many more.  There is one tradition I don’t enjoy much…

Every year as people are breaking out the grills and jumping into pools, my daughters are stretching out their vocal chords to get ready to cry all of July 4th.  Fireworks and the Johnson girls go together like Donald Trump at the Clinton family Thanksgiving table.  It never ends well.

This year was no different.  My wife and I were sitting in the living of a friend and I continually kept looking down at my phone.  This time it was not to check Twitter, it was to make sure we left in time to get in the home before the city fireworks started.  As a parent you understand the great lengths we may go to avoid a good cry from the kids.

In the midst of conversation I made an unforgivable mistake… I lost track of time.  Immediately the reality of a tear filled ride home sunk in.  We immediately rushed out the door and when we pulled out of the drive way you could hear the sound.  Yes fireworks and yes the cries of an 8 year old…  No one told me when I was becoming a father that they cry this late into life.

I did the normal dad thing where I tried to stay calm to help calm them down but something in the decibel level of a child’s cry really burns through my patience quickly.  By the time we pulled into our drive way the fear level with my girls was some where around the level you would imagine if you were being chased by a lion.

The whole time I was wondering what am I suppose to do.  I did what all dads would do… I decided I would force them to sit outside and watch them with me.  I am sure this will be one of those memories they seek healing from when they get older.  I thought after being out there after some time they would calm down and enjoy them.  I thought wrong…  

For the entire 20-30 minutes the girls just stood there and cried.  There wasn’t a moment it got worse or got better.  Just the steady shrill of two bundles of joy.  I am not sure why but it really bothered me that they were this scared.   When I laid down that night it hit me why them crying made me angry.  It’s because I wish they would know I wouldn’t stand with them in a place that would hurt them.  I wasn’t upset because they were afraid of the fireworks.  I was upset that me saying the fireworks were safe wasn’t enough for my kids.

I think we all know the feeling of fear very well.  I know I do.  Following God is a sure fire way to confront fear day in and day out.  Every day I am confronted with the reality that I am entirely in over my head, have areas of my heart that aren’t surrendered to God, and am responsible for raising two girls in a world that is rapidly changing.

It’s always been said that when encountered with fear all people either defer to fight or flight.  The more I read the Bible the more it becomes evident that we are privileged to a third option.  We do not have to run away and we do not have to run fearlessly forward.  We can look to our side and find comfort that our Father stands there with us.

I think our Heavenly Father would want us to realize what I wanted my kids to know.  I would not  take you somewhere that I could not keep you safe.  The beauty and the difficulty of serving a God who is always in control is there isn’t a place on the planet where He can’t keep us safe.  Also His definition of safe and our definition of safe rarely seem to match.

I guess this is where faith comes in.  Would a good Father allow anything to turn out that was not for the good?  If our Father says everything is ok shouldn’t that be enough?  The answer to both of these questions doesn’t necessarily make things easier.  You can know everything will work out good and that God is in control and still have tears in your eyes; however, when you know it you can have tears in your eyes and courage in your heart. 

We were made to fulfill a purpose.  To fulfill that purpose we are going to be taken places that makes us confront our fears.  Fear is natural.  Our response to fear should be supernatural.

So today we want to encourage and challenge you to see who walks with you.  Our Father commanded the stars and waves and they still hold their place.  He breathed into you and brought forth life and that breath is still sustaining you today.  He faced death and defeated it.  He has never been caught off guard and has never been overwhelmed.  He is seated in Heaven because He is entirely in control.  He is good. 

As we begin a new and exciting season with The Movement Church we do so with very real fears.  We also do so with very real comfort.  The loud noises are going off, the flashes are bright, and yet our Father remains incredibly confident.  Maybe the lesson from Peter walking on water was that we are allowed to panic about our fears when we see our Father panic.  Until then we can have fun on the waves. 

Have fears ever kept you from moving forward?  If so, there is no better time than today to make the move towards God your soul desperately seeks to make.  When we confront our fears with faith we open up the possibility of seeing God’s faithfulness over and over again.  

I think in the end of life things will end kind of like they did for me and the girls on a hot July night.  With some tears, some laughs, and the reality that no matter where I am I can trust my Father. 

 

— 

Daniel Johnson
Lead Pastor, The Movement Church

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