Ahhh, the 4th of July. The pomp, the circumstance, the jamboree of red, white and blue; mom, baseball, and apple pie; hot dogs, hamburgers, and parades; swimming pools, lawn chairs, and fireworks; Popsicles, watermelons, and the smell of sulfur; the luminous aura that fills communities all across our nation. As dusk settles in on America’s Independence Day, the hope of the 4th of July swells in the collective hearts of the nation, and families gather to feast their eyes on the bright cascades of iridescent magic that burst above them…. Then revel in poignant nostalgia, as their children chase the burnt remnants of exploded magnificence that float to the ground.
The 4th of July is Americana at its best. As Old Glory waves her stars and bars, and the sound of the Star Spangled Banner wafts across the crowd, patriotism rises in the breast of even the most apathetic of citizens… and for a few brief moments, there is a reprieve from life’s stresses.
Could it be that something as simple as a 4th of July celebration with 3-legged races, watermelon eating contests, and other seemingly trivial activities, relieve stress, and renew our hope? Experts say yes. As it turns out, taking a reprieve from our normal routine is crucial to maintaining our sense of well-being.
“Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines.”–The Importance of Vacations for our Physical and Mental Health, Psychology Today
Every living thing in the universe has a built in rest cycle. The earth has seasons. Bears hibernate. Employers give weekends. Farmers rest the land. Athletes rest their muscles. God rested on the seventh day of creation. Yet you and I often work through our rest cycles, and all too often, do today, what really could be put off until tomorrow. And in the doing, we can miss meaningful time with our families, and our God.
And resting is important for our spiritual growth as well. Bill Johnson speaks about the importance of rest from a spiritual growth standpoint:
The Hope of The 4th of July
The hope of the 4th of July is so much more than just a day of sparklers and fireworks. It is a reminder of all that is good. Family. Patriotism. Time to relax. Reflect. Renew.
So for today, listen to the sights, sounds, and smells of what’s around you. See the sparkle in the eye of your loved one. Hear the heartbeat of the town that you may grow old in. Feel the strength of the ground beneath your feet. Enjoy the color of the grass, the beauty of the clouds, and the stickiness of the cotton candy. Laugh. Sing. Dance. Breathe deep and luxuriously. Open wide your heart, and allow the hope of the 4th of July to flood your being.
And in the doing, you will find rest. And you will find your God.
(Photos Courtesy of Google Images)