Happy Fourth of July!
While we were walking to see the fireworks in Westhampton tonight, I mentioned to Jeremy that for some reason, it had seemed like awhile since we had seen them. He reminded me that it was awhile, because we had spent the past two fourth of Julys in Costa Rica on our missions trips. And that totally caused me to look back through our old Costa Rica pictures and reflect on the fun memories that we made on those two trips.
That first summer, our sweet Costa Rican friends made us a special Fourth of July cake.
It was accompanied by a delicious chicken meal and really made us all feel quite at home.
As I’ve shared before, Michael joined us for both trips to Costa Rica.
While we were there, we teamed up with a local church and helped out at their Kids Games program.
Many of us enjoyed that week so much that we made the decision to go back the following summer. This was unprecedented in our Youth Group’s history, since we usually have a three year cycle of missions trips. But there was something so special about that church and that week and that program that we made an exception to that rule and I’m really so happy that we did.
Michael was always amazing on the missions trips. He jumped right in to help out and always had a smile and a great attitude no matter what he was doing.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Michael and the impact he’s made since his accident. It’s hard to imagine that someone can have such a powerful effect on others in the midst of so many difficulties and obstacles. People tell me all the time that even though they didn’t personally know Michael, they are drawn to him and to praying for him. And I do believe that it all ties back to how Michael chose to live his life before his accident.
Michael loved Jesus and he also loved others and we all knew it. He had this way of making people feel important and cared about and it was most definitely a gift.
And tying this all together. As I mentioned, tonight, we went to watch the fireworks in Westhampton. In my personal opinion, they put on the best show I’ve ever seen. I really love fireworks. I love the colors and the sounds and even that sulfury smell you smell when you sit close to where they are lighting them off. And as I watch the fireworks, I can’t help but find little life metaphors in them. Because in a way, we’re all like fireworks. We get this once chance to live our lives however we chose. Some of us chose to live big and bright and bold. Some of us chose to live in a way that others can’t help but see and be inspired. Likewise, others of us chose other paths. We don’t live to our full potential, and we don’t really shine all that much.
But the truth is, that God definitely intended for us to live big. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us to “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” God gives us this incredible life and light and He wants others to see it and to be amazed. Michael chose to live so that others could see God’s light in His life and he continues to be a shining light to others as he works towards recovery and healing.
So today on this fourth of July, when you see fireworks, be reminded. You are a light. You get to chose how brightly you shine. Be bold. Be bright. And do great things so that others can see and praise God.