Growing up in Ohio, we were oppressed. State laws made it illegal to use any fireworks that were bigger and better than those little party packs you can get at a grocery store. If it wasn't a sparkler, a tiny, exploding bottle of confetti, or one of those paper snap things, you couldn't use it.
And they wonder why people aren't as patriotic anymore?
Despite the lockdown on our Constitutional right to pyrotechnic displays and loud noise-making, my family would always make the trip to watch our hometown fireworks show. The best part was always the finale and even the most hardened heart couldn't help but be inspired. Fireworks are just really cool, and there's no denying it.
Baby, You're a Firework
When I first heard Katy Perry's now-overplayed Firework, I thought it was a really catchy song. It seemed to be encouraging and empowering, and as a youth minister, I was delighted that none of the words needed to be censored.
‘Cause baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth
Make ‘em go “oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
I liked the idea that I was similar to a firework, a bright and shining spark lighting up the sky. I wanted to live a life that made everyone say, 'oh, oh, oh.'
Actually, Never Mind.
But then I thought about it more and I decided that the LAST thing I want to be is a firework. As exciting as they are, fireworks don't really have a long life. There's a high-pitched hum, a crackle, and then a really cool explosion of light that lasts for maybe five seconds.
And that's all there is. Except for the smell of sulfur that lasts for another minute, and the charred out debris that lands somewhere. For all of their glory, fireworks burn out pretty fast. No matter how high they go, no matter how cool the colors are, they're forgotten when the next one goes off.
I don't want to live my life like that. I don't want to be a flash that impresses people for a few moments and then fades into oblivion.
I think we have way too many examples of people who live like this; they have a huge moment (or two) of fame but it's over pretty quickly. We were not made to be fireworks. We were not made to chase short-term glory; God created our hearts to be part of His eternal glory (Isaiah 26:8).
What Are You?
If my life revolves around making myself famous, I may succeed, but it will be insignificant in the long-term. A holy priest once told my friend that we can either live to be remembered for a few years or we can be remembered for centuries. I doubt that any of us know who the political leaders, celebrities, or famous people were in 13th Century Italy.
800 years later we're still talking about saints like Francis of Assisi; men and women who refused to chase after worldly fame because they were living for eternity.
Why would we settle for momentary glory when we were made for so much more?
The good news is that you, and I, are not fireworks.
Don't get me wrong, I do hope that you’re noticed, that you’re appreciated, and that people say 'ah, ah, ah,' when they meet you.
We have the opportunity to live lives of significance. Do we want our only legacy to be the smell of sulfur and the burnt out pieces of a life that was once impressive?
This year, I hope you enjoy the fireworks. They are pretty amazing. But they've got nothing on you.