My traditions are disappearing, one by one, and I'm sorry to see them go.
For years, the Fourth of July belonged to us. Fireworks were popping all day long, Danny leading the pack. Fire up the grill, make Mom's potato salad, slice the tomatoes thick, and wait for night to fall. The displays got better every year, especially once Ben and Pat had children to offer their oohs and ahhs! Nebraska's fireworks law is much less restrictive than Colorado's, so the best displays were just outside my back door, one year the wraparound porch providing shelter for everyone, a thunderstorm providing God's contribution to the night. But the Fourth was ours before that. In 1988, we had a new to us house, and a healthier crop of dandelions I've not seen since. Dandelion forks were distributed and everyone got a 4.0 in Weed Pulling 101. Danny had promised each of the kids a nickel for every dandelion and root they pulled. They were so efficient, he had to cut their pay, but they toughed it out and in two year's time, we had a lovely expanse of Kentucky Bluegrass, completely dandelion free. I think they spent every single penny they earned on fireworks. This year? Not a single solitary snap, crackle or pop at our place.
The trouble with traditions is that they have their season, and then they're gone.
Every Christian must learn, from Jesus, how we come to call the Creator of all things "Father"; what it means to suffer for someone you love, even unto death; and how to submit to Christ's nail-scarred hand where we find healing for whatever affliction our sin has visited upon us; learning as we grow that our Comforter is within, guiding, guarding and teaching.
This is the lesson every Christian must learn, because there are no grandchildren in God's family. We come to truth through one path. And every generation is as the first generation was. We are given the right to be called sons and daughters in God's family. It is a birthright born on a cross and conferred at the foot of that cross. Best to set aside the traditions of men until you have learned that.
Because all that worldly men learn through the traditions of men, is that once upon a time in a Bethlehem long, long ago, a babe was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and heaven rejoiced.
Three to four months, picking up the story 33 years later, all that worldly men learn through the traditions of men is that Someone named Jesus was crucified on a cross for the sins of the world (whatever those are), but it turns out OK because he rose from the grave, and heaven rejoiced.
In American Christianity, this is all that the world sees when it looks at us. This is all that the world understands about those who call Jesus both Savior and Lord, and other than different weekend activities, it's a lot like looking in the mirror.
Sometimes, looks can be deceiving. Because when it counts, Christ and his love, shine through.
Readers will have to endure at least one more story about my boss, my editor, my friend, and my brother in Christ, Bruce Crosby.
I teased him mercilessly about that motorcycle, memories of Danny's road rash 30 years ago as fresh as morning. Saturday night, Bruce crashed, but didn't burn. Oh, he's got some road rash I'll wager, but it's barely on the radar. His life changed on a dime; as did every life he touches, whether briefly, or intimately.
Bruce and Candy have not walked an easy road. It's a story most of the community is familiar with, because they are both integral parts of this community. But the heart lessons they have learned came shining through, when Bruce, I am told, in the midst of the confusion, the shock and pain that was just getting up to speed, offered words of encouragement and comfort to the other driver, whose life was also changed.
Take time to heal, Bruce. Enjoy these moments when you're called to yet "be still, and know that I am God." I'm thinking you're going to get plenty of them.
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.