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Monday, July 6, 2009

Sense of Wonder

"Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you--majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?" (Exodus 15: 11 NIV)

My family and I piled into the car this weekend and drove to a nearby hill to watch the city fireworks display for the Independence Day celebration. I saw some of the old favorites, like the giant bloom-shaped aerials that changed colors several times before they faded away. I also saw some new favorites, such as smiley faces and stars. The most memorable this year was a couple of fireworks which exploded with so very little show that we at first thought they were duds. A few seconds later, however, we noticed little glowing stick figures that parachuted slowly down and burned themselves out after several minutes. I have never seen anything like that before!

My parents shared childhood memories of firework displays while we waited for this one to start. My dad told us that he remembered seeing a firework go off that expanded to the shape of a clipper ship! That must have been something to see. Mom talked about her first fireworks show and how she had hidden in the car when they started going off (the important lesson being that we should warn our children about what to expect when we take them to a show the first time).

All Saturday evening, so many fireworks and firecrackers went off that it sounded like the town was being shelled. The only one who wasn't having fun was my dog!

I went to bed thinking about the joy that fireworks brought me when I was small. I have to ask my readers this: As you watched fireworks this weekend (at home, on television, or even at a municipal fireworks display), did you remember the sense of wonder you had about them when you were a child? I hope, for your sake, you were able to enjoy fireworks just as you did when you were very small. Life is too short and too burdened with trouble not to be able to have some carefree fun now and then.

Of course, my perception of fireworks has changed quite a bit as I have grown up. They used to be magical and mysterious. Now that I understand the science behind them, I love them more. I now know that the colors in fireworks are produced when atoms literally take up energy (from the heat and explosion) and expand. The electrons around the nucleus of the atom move away from the nucleus and snap back, releasing energy in the form of light. Every type of atom releases a unique color of light when it is superheated. With the right equipment, it is possible to figure out the chemical components in a firework, just by watching it burn! So, what do you think? Doesn't knowing how a firework works actually deepen your appreciation of it?

It certainly has deepened mine. Before, fireworks were a beautiful, magical, once-a-year treat. Now, they are also a reminder of God's goodness. Who else would have thought to make atoms function in such a way that they could provide us with all of those glowing colors in the night sky? Surely God is in the details! If something as trivial as the color of fire could be important to God, certainly nothing is too small to escape His attention!

What has God done for you, lately, that struck you with childlike wonder or reminded you of His loving care for your life?