On the 4th of July, Americans gather with friends and family to celebrate our freedom by watching fireworks displayed in public places or by shooting them off on neighborhood streets.
It just wouldn’t be the 4th without seeing fireworks light up the sky.
Americans spend over 8 billion on fireworks, according to CNBC and other sources. America obviously believes in “go big or go home” when it comes to celebrating the 4th of July holiday.
July 4th Crisis
Our backyard happens to have the best view for our fireworks display in our city and so many friends and family have gathered for this event to watch the fireworks at our house over the years.
This year, we had just finished our swim and barbeque and were in the backyard having dessert with friends. Suddenly, around 9:30 PM, I realized our dog, Kai, was not in the house, nor in the backyard. We soon realized that someone had unknowingly let him out, as they had been coming in and out throughout the evening party.
This was extremely unnerving because our house is close to a major street in our city, where cars can go up to 50 miles an hour. This street also has the best view for fireworks, and so traffic is crazy before and after the fireworks show.
I went down the street calling Kai’s name, along with my friend Lynn and her teenage children, but after 15 minutes of walking and calling, I was definitely getting low on faith. Yet, whenever I was feeling disheartened someone would yell out, “We saw your dog just 10 minutes ago walking down the street.”
I felt so out of place because all of these people were so excited about seeing the fireworks, and I just wanted to find my dog — at that point, I could care less about the fireworks.
Most of us know that sensation — although probably my type more than others. You know, like when you lose your cell phone, and it’s on vibrate, and you want the whole world to stop, so you can hear it’s muted buzzing.
I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, “Everybody stop! My dog is lost! Can anyone help me find him?”
Just when we had given up hope, and were going to head home, we saw Avery, Lynn’s youngest daughter holding Kai on the other side of the street. She had found him miraculously caught in a fence close to the bridge, which goes over a major highway.
She told us that she had heard something wrestling in the darkness. As she peered down a steep embankment, she saw that his collar was stuck in the fence. Upon climbing down to where he was, she was able to loosen his collar and free him from the fence.
My Kai was safe and found!
As we took him home, and the fireworks were about to start, I realized how desperate God must be to find His lost children, and free them, so they can come home to Him.
Losing our Way
Through this ordeal, I realized how easy it is to become distracted, and get off course in life. I am sure Kai just ran across the street chasing another dog, and ended up getting completely turned around in all of the over-stimulating activity of those coming to watch the fireworks in our neighborhood.
It is oftentimes easy to find ourselves running toward significance in what we create, or in our jobs or relationships, believing that well-being comes from how others value us. We can make a wrong turn and end up feeling far away from God, disconnected from others, and lose sight of who we truly are.
In those times, it is easy to ignore those who are calling out to us, and become deaf to the very ones who love us and who can lead us home.
Like Kai, we can keep running, trying to find our way home, but end up farther away than we ever thought possible.
It’s not long before we find ourselves stuck in shame, preventing us from getting back to the safety and security of God’s presence, and community.
In Luke 15:4, Jesus shares the parable about the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find the one lamb who is lost. All of us at times wander like my dog, Kai, but thankfully the good Shepherd is there to lead us back to his arms and back home, where we are safe.
Who Needs Our Help?
As we celebrated Fourth of July with friends, I felt such a burden for those who feel alone, and who are wandering lost and broken. Kai’s ordeal provoked me to lean in to the compassion I feel for people who are lost and alone in this world, disconnected and in despair.
My friends and I didn’t give up when we were looking for Kai, trusting God to lead us. In the same way, God will release creative strategies to us in restoring people back to God’s original intent for their lives.
Is there a person who needs your help today whom you could show the way back home through your creative expressions?
Julies are waiting…
Just last week, I was teaching at a Creative Conference at the Father’s House in Orange County, and one of my interns drew a dragon fruit, and used the picture as a catalyst for words of knowledge for healing.
As she shared her painting to the congregation, she asked if there was a Julie who had pain in the crowd. A Julie, who had scoliosis since birth, responded, and came up to the front, where we began to minister to her.
As she looked at the dragon fruit painting, while another person sang a prophetic song to her, the power of God came into her back like fireworks, and she was instantaneously healed of 50 years of pain, as her back became perfectly straight!
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation to those who are lost, broken, in pain, or turned away from God (2 Cor. 5:11-21).
There is always hope of God helping us in whatever ordeal we may find ourselves in.
We have been given the keys to the Kingdom to help people find freedom from whatever they find themselves stuck in (Matt. 16:19).
Like Kai, who was lost, or Julie, who needed a healing miracle, God’s fireworks of power through creativity can heal and set others free.
As I write this blog, with my dog, Kai, sleeping next to me, I know that the freedom I have been given through my relationship with Christ is something that others need all around me.
I am reminded that every time I write, sing, dance, paint, preach, and reach out, I am releasing spectacular fireworks of God’s goodness to heal and restore.
We need to “discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them towards acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of His love” (Heb. 10:24 Passion).
Your creative compassion in action will release fireworks that will reveal the glory of God, bring freedom, and lead others home to the Father.
Remember, You are born to Create!