Catching Fireflies on a Summer’s Night

Originally posted July 6, 2012

For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:7

It’s what summer looks like to me.

Stepping out into the slightest hint of coolness in the final minutes of a hot summer’s day, we carry an empty Mason jar with a foil lid folded down over the edges of the glass.  The sun drifts down and the light dims so that we can see the fireflies at play.

Last night, I called them “lightning bugs” like we did as kids, and my daughter scrunched up her nose in confusion.

Lightning bugs.  Fireflies.  It’s the freedom of summer.  We stay up past bedtime and run around the yard swinging our arms and cupping our hands trying to catch one. firefliesfreedom

On TV, whenever you see a jar of fireflies, it’s lit up, a natural lantern for the evening jaunt.

But I haven’t seen this.  Last night as I watched the few captives in our jar, they remained dark.  They didn’t expend any energy for light.  Instead, their every effort remained focused on escape.  Most of them immediately scaled the jar and sat at the top, right up against the foil, just waiting for me to open the lid again so they could fly to freedom.

Usually, we manage to defeat their various tactics and keep them in the jar until the end of the night when one daughter whines because she didn’t catch one and another daughter begs to catch just one more.  Then they all ask if we can just keep them overnight or for an hour or just a few minutes.

Pleeeeease?   Pretty please?

But I’m sympathetic to the plight of our captives.  So, before we trudge inside we lift up the foil lid and let loose the fireflies.  They jump into the air and without hesitation light up—probably sending out a warning that predators are on the move.

Whatever their message, freedom helps them shine.

Their freedom comes at little cost to them really.  They’ve made attempts at escape, but most have failed.  Ultimately, their freedom flight simply requires me to lift the foil beneath my fingers.

Our freedom, however, is costly.  Physically, most of us receive the gift of freedom because of the sacrifice of others.  I read this week that Thornton Wilder, the famed American playwright and novelist, fought in both WWI and WWII.  People like him paid the price for people like us.

In the same way, our spiritual freedom carries a high price tag, one we could never pay.  Instead, we are the recipient of freedom because of another’s sacrifice.

Paul tells us:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Freedom is God’s design for us.  It has always been His intention and plan and Christ willingly paid the costly price on our behalf.

Jesus is a freedom-giver, a defeater of oppression and freer of captives.:  “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38 ESV).

But Paul charges us with a task, as well. Christ offered us freedom and now it is our job to “stand firm” and refuse to submit to slavery again.

It seems foolish and yet we often choose prison over the freedom Christ offers.  We sit in the bottom of our Mason jar, unwilling to fly and light up the night.  Perhaps we want to do it on our own, scale the glass, escape the lid.  Perhaps the night air is too frightening and the jar too comfortable because it’s what we know.

Do you do this?

If anxiety is your jail, do you rebuild the prison walls by wallowing in fear, allowing your mind to travel where it shouldn’t, looking up information that you know will disturb you, inciting emotions and then letting them run wild?

When the rigors of legalism and the chains of people-pleasing threaten to oppress you, do you submit–check the boxes, follow the crowd, follow expectations, try not to rock the boat, don’t do anything crazy or radical?

If shame holds you captive, do you allow Satan to throw your past in your face, to call you names, to cover your eyes so you can’t see the totally loved, totally forgiven person Christ has made you?

God never meant for you to live oppressed.

So, now that He’s offered you freedom . . . live free by living in truth (John 8:32).

Combat lies with the Word.
Feed on a diet of Scripture so that doubts and Satan’s schemes starve.
Be alert to the first sign of shackles and chains as Satan, the world, and even your old habits try to sneak them onto your wrists and feet.

Freedom is Christ’s gift to you, so refuse to accept captivity any longer.  He’s called you to shine and to fly and to share the message of sweet, sweet freedom with other prisoners.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Summer Grace

My daughter asks, “Why is it so much easier to get along with friends than with sisters some times?”

Four days into summer vacation and she’s already pleading for more time with friends and less time with siblings.

But here’s the truth I tell her….time with others destroys masks, facades, and fake perfection.  It has a way of dragging all of those sins and faults, all of that selfishness and the bad attitudes from where they stay safely hidden during play dates and public outings.

Anyone can behave for a few hours on a play date.

That’s what I tell her.

Then I remind myself: Any mom can respond sweetly to her child who is having a meltdown in the Wal-Mart aisle five minutes into your shopping trip when there are people around who might overhear you.

And those TV moms—sure, any of us could be super creative, fun, and even-tempered enough to fill 40 minutes of film footage once a week.

God isn’t satisfied with superficial sweetness, though.  He wants genuine transformation.  He wants the world to look deep and long at us and see the reflection of Christ, not some plastic Jesus or some temporary super-Christian persona.

It’s part of His design with family and others to wield us as tools, chipping away at one another, breaking off the pieces that simply need to go, and  masterfully forming us little by little into tried-and-true, walking and talking, in-season and out-of-season examples of Christ in the world.

Proverbs tells us:

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

So He places us in families and in community with one another.

And then He gives us summer seasons…when we’re up close and personal and with each other all day instead of scattering away to schools, activities, and our own busy lives.

It’s so much time so close together that causes the explosions….when she won’t share the game, and she says something unkind, and she makes annoying noises, and her piano playing is too loud, and she’s hungry and impatient, and she wants to go to the library when she wants to stay home in her pajamas all day…when all this “self” collides with the “self” in everyone else, that’s when He reminds us of grace.

Maybe that’s the lesson in summer, after all.

Grace to rest.

Grace to stop the frantic running from school pick-ups to evening activities, tossing back granola bars to your kids from the front of the mini-van while you rush to ballet where you yank hair back into 8117936_mbuns and push in bobby pins before class begins.

Grace to linger over the cup of tea in the morning instead of putting on the drill sergeant hat and barking out commands to children to get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair, find shoes, pack lunches and then kiss them on the cheek and send them out the door just in time to rush onto the school bus.

Grace to skip the chores and pack the car for the beach.

Grace even that I need to extend to myself—to not adhere completely to the writing schedule, to post late to the blog or even miss a day—because we’re out enjoying the summer and I’m taking this time I’ve been given with my kids for these few short weeks and I don’t want to miss it.

And grace for each other.

This is the mom speech I make for my daughter after a sibling melt-down.

In this family, we give grace because we need grace. When someone makes a mistake, we don’t mock, or point fingers, or jump up eagerly to show off how they were wrong.

After all, we need grace.  We receive grace, so we show grace to others.

We need grace.

We receive grace.

We show grace.

Paul wrote this:

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32 HCSB).

And that’s how we breathe in and breathe out when daily annoyances and mistakes, sins, and forgetfulness, bad days, troubles, and trials threaten to consume us.That’s what we do when others step on our toes and bruise our feelings.  We forgive because we’ve been forgiven.

This summer, we lean back full into this grace and rest.  Choosing not to be stressed over the schedule, but to relax in relationship.  Choosing to forgive the hurts and cease the fault-finding as Christ uses this season together to transform us.

That’s the grace that is summer.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King