When the Fireworks are Over!


Sean Garner

after-fireworksThe week AFTER Fourth of July is unique.

There are trash bags full of napkins, half-eaten food and aluminum cans. The garage is full of folding chairs that didn’t QUITE make it back to right place. The refrigerator is full of strange dishes covered in plastic wrap with various success. The back yard looks like there once was some sort of significant tribal meeting that has since faded away to history. The driveway has mysterious black smudges that smell like sulfur that hold within them the distinct memory of cheers of excitement or the moans of disappointment. And, your mind and body have to make an adjustment back to a world where work starts early every morning and no particular weekend is filled in the same way until the summer ends.

If we’re quiet enough, reflection is a powerful tool that God uses to transform us. Now, to be clear, reflection is a step beyond assessment (where you just look at the mess you made)–it adds a layer of depth with emotion to help us see “what did it all mean?” versus the intellectual “what did we just do?”

Here’s a great way to bring reflection into your week (even if it is full of recovering and preparing for your summer ministry’s activities).  Find a quiet place in your day and look at your ministry’s calendar for the last year. Instead of asking, “What did we do?” prayerfully ask, “How did I FEEL about what we did?”

You’ll find God resonating with your heart over the things the events, ministries (and even the messes) that matter most to Him: things that reflect His desire for justice, mercy, love, and grace. Plus, you’ll find your heart rejecting those things that God has a distain for as well: strife, want, envy (even busy-ness).

Taking the trash out after the Fourth of July is a humbling experience. We see how wasteful we are with our resources (which adds weight to commitment to the cause of World Vision to share our stuff with those who have none). We see how short-lived every experience is (it all goes into the bag and out to the curb). We get a feeling that the most important parts of our lives can’t be boiled down to paper plates and hot dog buns.

As your body adjusts to life after the Fourth, take time to find a place of peace and FEEL your way through your ministry for a short time of reflection. You’ll find that your commitment to God’s causes become firm and unmovable, ready to be pivot points for future success when you move from simply assessing the mess to reflecting on its meaning.