We have just come through another 4th of July holiday when we celebrated the freedoms we have in our country. This year, we had a rather unusual event on this day, especially considering the liberties that we have been blessed with. We were able to share about the true meaning of freedom in a very unique setting. We set up our sound system outside on the yard compound of a men’s prison. It is not a typical place where you commemorate freedom, because most of these men are focusing on their boundaries. However, it was a true blessing to share about being free in Christ to the men who attentively sat and listened to us. There were also many more men who were able to hear about Jesus while they were playing baseball, exercising, and throwing horseshoes. Some of them came up and thanked us for sharing and said they were able to clearly hear even though they were in the middle of a baseball game.
After we left the correctional facility, our family was able to stop in a small town near Grand Rapids, Michigan to watch the fireworks. It was a much smaller demonstration than the fireworks we saw last year over the St. Louis Gateway Arch, but we still enjoyed parking our motorhome beside the road and joining the people along the sidewalks of this quaint, little town. Our little girls loved the beautiful hues of the red, white, and brilliant blue display of colors. I enjoyed watching their little faces light up more than the fireworks.
As we watched the variety of colorful displays light up the sky, I was reminded of how this symbolizes each of our lives. There are some individuals who’s lives leave a beautiful splash of color. Others are amazed at their radiating beauty. Their vivid, dazzling hues spill over and touch a large amount of people. Even after they are gone, their influence keeps affecting us in a positive way.
This clearly describes my grandma. She just went to be with Jesus on June 27th, and was only days away from her 99th birthday.
She had lived a long, full life. However, her life was far from easy; it was only because of her godly choices that she left a wonderful legacy behind. Grandma experienced true freedom because she was bound to her Lord and Savior! Her mom died when she was only ten years old and, since she was the oldest girl in the family, many responsibilities rested on her shoulders. Grandma lived through The Great Depression and then was left to raise her nine children after her husband died. She was a widow for forty-seven years, but grandma was blessed with a large family to love and care for her, and she currently has fifty-five grandchildren, two hundred and eight great-grandchildren, and one hundred and fifty-three great-great-grandchildren.
I can sincerely say that I have never met a sweeter person than my dear grandma. Her significant, godly influence had an impact on many people. A common statement we heard was that she never complained or made negative remarks about anyone. When grandma was asked how she was doing, her typical answer was, “I have MUCH to be thankful for!” My grandma certainly left a dazzling splash of color and beauty to everyone she met, and there were approximately eight to nine hundred people who came to share their condolences with our family.
In contrast, I will never forget the memorial service I attended years ago of an elderly gentleman. There were only a few family members and friends who were present and the memories that were shared were reflections of strained relationships and shallow, earthly achievements. As I thought about each of his accomplishments, I realized that there was nothing of true significance or of lasting value. This man didn’t have a personal relationship with God, and he was known as a hard person to get along with. I was starkly reminded of the verses in Ecclesiastes 1:2 and 14, “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity…I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” This clearly describes our lives if we are living them without the guidance and empowering of God’s spirit.
As we were watching the fireworks light up the night sky, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my life compared more to the sting and smell of the smoke bombs and the empty firecrackers rather than the beautiful array of vibrant colors. In my mind, these firecrackers are rather useless and irritating. There is nothing very beautiful or appealing about them, and instead of producing any color, they are just noisy and repulsive. In much the same way, this is a comparison to some individual’s lives. Because of the choices they have made, their lives have produced very little except a disgusting “stench.” There is very little beauty that is emitted and their lives are soon forgotten. Much of what is remembered is in a negative light, and the impact they have left is more of a generational stronghold rather than a positive influence.
Each of us have one opportunity to make a “bang” in our little area of life that God has blessed us with. We can choose whether we are producing useless, stinky “smoke bombs,” forceful and irritating firecrackers, or a stunning array of vivid color and magnificent beauty. The choice is yours! Determine to live your life a little more filled with God’s presence and a little less filled of yourself and your agenda. Let’s be committed to leave a legacy for Jesus!
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)